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Writing Sample Titles


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#1 postmodern

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Posted 13 January 2011 - 08:32 PM

So one thing I noticed, when I was trying to come up with a title for my writing sample (for English/Lit programs) was that every title I came up with followed some kind of pattern. Usually I incorporated some kind of catchy phrase or quote, and then I followed (generally in the subtitle) with at least two conceptual ideas, ending with "in the [BLANK] of [SOME WORK or AUTHOR]." Eventually it got to be a kind of game, where I felt like I could just plug any words in there and it would sound just as academic or just as meaningless. (Dyslexia and Grief in the Ballads of Bob Dylan. Inversion and Ambiguity in the Footnotes of David Foster Wallace. etc.) Not that it was total BS... but I think I'd been spending a little too much time with JIRA.

Anyway, my final title was "Parenthesis of Light: Intermediacy and Potentiality in Pynchon's Stoner Noir." Which I actually liked quite a bit, even though it sounds ridiculous considering that the source novel is about a pot-smoking detective who calls everything "groovy."

Curious about whether other people (especially English/Lit candidates) struggled to find a title that 1) didn't sound obnoxiously abstruse and yet 2) sounded appropriately academic, while 3) would be original enough to keep the adcomms' eyes from glazing over. I like to think that my title fit in there somewhere, but every now and then it still makes me laugh.
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#2 Eli-

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Posted 18 January 2011 - 07:06 PM

I ended up calling mine "'A Good Serviceable Fiction': Capital, Form, and Carpenter's Gothic" - though a better title might have been something like "Hope You're Comfortable: This Paper is Ass Long."
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#3 hupr

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Posted 18 January 2011 - 07:29 PM

More importantly, is Inherent Vice worth reading?
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#4 postmodern

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Posted 19 January 2011 - 09:00 PM

Re: Inherent Vice... Yes, a groovy read. Two thumbs up. (My alternate title.)
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#5 natsteel

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Posted 19 January 2011 - 09:03 PM

Literature lends itself to much more creative titles than history. I used a fairly standard formula in history:

"Illustrative quote from sources": Boring overly-lengthy description of what paper actually is about, xxxx-xxxx.

Just playing the game...
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***All statements above pertaining to the application process are specific to the field of History and my own experience.


#6 Medievalmaniac

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Posted 20 January 2011 - 01:34 PM

So one thing I noticed, when I was trying to come up with a title for my writing sample (for English/Lit programs) was that every title I came up with followed some kind of pattern. Usually I incorporated some kind of catchy phrase or quote, and then I followed (generally in the subtitle) with at least two conceptual ideas, ending with "in the [BLANK] of [SOME WORK or AUTHOR]." Eventually it got to be a kind of game, where I felt like I could just plug any words in there and it would sound just as academic or just as meaningless. (Dyslexia and Grief in the Ballads of Bob Dylan. Inversion and Ambiguity in the Footnotes of David Foster Wallace. etc.) Not that it was total BS... but I think I'd been spending a little too much time with JIRA.

Anyway, my final title was "Parenthesis of Light: Intermediacy and Potentiality in Pynchon's Stoner Noir." Which I actually liked quite a bit, even though it sounds ridiculous considering that the source novel is about a pot-smoking detective who calls everything "groovy."

Curious about whether other people (especially English/Lit candidates) struggled to find a title that 1) didn't sound obnoxiously abstruse and yet 2) sounded appropriately academic, while 3) would be original enough to keep the adcomms' eyes from glazing over. I like to think that my title fit in there somewhere, but every now and then it still makes me laugh.


Being a medievalist, almost all of my titles invariably point towards Monty Python.

A paper I gave at a conference last year: "I'm Not Dead Yet: Patterns of Victim Agency in Medieval British Texts".

My thesis: "King of the Who? Crafting National Identity in Medieval Arthurian Texts."

And so on and so forth. I also sometimes quote Mel Brooks - "It's Good to be the King: Images of Monarchy in Medieval English Romances".

Etc. etc. etc. - I always try for something that I think is funny, followed by a brief description of what my paper is about.
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"In this universe effect follows cause. I've complained about it but—" Gregory House
"The difference between genius and insanity is measured only by success". - Unknown
"I don't cause commotions, I am one." - Elphaba, Stephen Swartz's Wicked, The Musical
"The opposite of war isn't peace, it's creation." Jonathan Larson
(Witty little sayings are to the English major what Pringles are to hoi polloi...no one can have just one.)

Attending UNC-Greensboro beginning Fall 2012, English PhD program, medieval concentration

#7 postmodern

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Posted 24 January 2011 - 08:21 PM

I actually like "'Illustrative quote from sources': Boring overly-lengthy description of what paper actually is about" as a title. Although I think that's the paper you submit when you've decided to drop out of grad school.
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#8 qbtacoma

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Posted 25 January 2011 - 06:53 AM

I personally go for the formula "Trendy Hook: First, Second, and Third Theoretical Concepts Which are Somehow Related."
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Attending University of British Columbia!

#9 bdon19

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Posted 02 September 2011 - 04:39 PM

Oh, definitely. At my school we call it the "Word, Word, Colon" formula. I personally go for the:

catchy phrase or quote, followed (generally in the subtitle) with at least two conceptual ideas, ending with "in the [BLANK] of [SOME WORK or AUTHOR]."


Examples:

“Because she rose from stinking Ooze”: An Examination of Socially Constructed Beauty in the Eighteenth Century
(This was for a 100-level gender studies class. The topic was "social construction." I wrote about Swift. :D )

“I at least have so much to do”: Narrative Responsibility, Analogy, and Heterogeneity in George Eliot’s Middlemarch

“[T]o lay a hand on its exhausted dust”: The Materiality of Memory in Andrey Platonov's The Foundation Pit

“Mystical Misogyny”: An Examination of Mythical Contradictions and Novel Form in D.H. Lawrence’s The Rainbow

Yeah, I've had fun with this format. B)
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Accepted: Indiana-Bloomington, UNC-Chapel Hill, UT-Austin, UConn (M.A.)
Rejected: Brown, Cornell, Duke, Michigan, Princeton, Rutgers, Toronto (implicit)

Well, folks, looks like I'm out. Decision time!

#10 Origin=Goal

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Posted 03 September 2011 - 03:11 AM

I ended up calling mine "'A Good Serviceable Fiction': Capital, Form, and Carpenter's Gothic" - though a better title might have been something like "Hope You're Comfortable: This Paper is Ass Long."


Props on this one, definitely a lit-lover's title; still working on the title of my writing sample, which will be part of a current project.
On another note this thread gave me the masochistic urge to find my worst-titled paper: although I might have an even worse ace up my sleeve, for now the prize goes to an essay I wrote on Benito Galdos last year entitled "La Moralidad de la clase media: la ética y lo capital en El Torquemada en la hoguera" if, for nothing else, the sheer unimaginativeness of my translation of the famous GB Shaw quote

Edited by Origin=Goal, 03 September 2011 - 03:12 AM.

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#11 Sigaba

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Posted 06 September 2011 - 01:13 AM

"Hope You're Comfortable: This Paper is Ass Long."


Brilliant! B) Thank you for a much needed laugh. :D
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In the effort to create an “instant history” with which we could live and prosper, our early historians intentionally placed our early national heroes and leaders beyond the pale of criticism. . . . And this distorted image of them has not only created a gross historical fallacy, but it has also rendered it utterly impossible to deal with our past in terms of the realities that existed at that time. To put it another way, our romanticizing about the history of the late eighteenth century has prevented our recognizing the fact that the founding fathers made serious mistakes that have greatly affected the course of our national history from that time to the present.


John Hope Franklin, ISBN-0807115479, p. 154.

 

Taking critics seriously, and responding to them thoughtfully, is a sign of respect.

 

William G. Bowen, ISBN-9780691149622,  p. 53.


 





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