The “Frosted Mini-Wheat Title”

The Frosted Mini-Wheat Title:
Examples and Explanations of a Good Title

Explanation from Mr. Lally:

A former professor of mine told my class that a poem without a title is like a baby without a head. The same is true for essays. Every year, I get the same sad parade of headless babies. I also frequently get essays with lackluster titles such as The Catcher in the Rye, or Period 5 or, sadly, Essay. These, technically, are titles, but we will all agree that they are underwhelming. Your title is your first chance to catch your reader’s attention, and it can also be simultaneously informative. Think of the titles of your essays like Frosted Mini-Wheats©. The sugary, fun side is something creative, shocking, funny or unexpected. Think of it this way: come up with something I might not ever see again for as long as I teach. The nutritious dull side is a statement of what exactly your essay is examining. The two titles are divided by a colon. For balance, I break the title to the second line after the colon, but if one of your two titles if far longer than the other, you may wish to reduce it, or reposition the colon. DO NOT put your own title in boldface or italics – the only italicized part of your title is when you write the title the novel, play, short story (etc) that you are discussing.

Some style suggestions: For the sugary, fun side, go crazy. For the dull side, do the following: (1) Introduce the author and the title of the work (if applicable), (2) Do NOT use the phrase “An Essay About…” since we all know that you have written an essay, (3) Get right to the point – say what you need to in as few words as possible. In other words, saying “An Examination of Window Symbolism in Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye” is better than “How Windows Often Symbolically Represent Holden Caulfield’s Desires in Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye

(NB: Your title ought to be double-spaced, but for the sake of this list, I have single-spaced the titles below)

Here are some examples: 

Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is:
Food as Currency in Zola Neal Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God

Rip Van Winkle: Whipped, Then Wrinkled:
An Examination of Rip Van Winkle’s Overbearing Wife 

Hopefully, You Won’t Be a Woman Soon:
Instruction and Warning in Jamaica Kinkaid’s “Girl” 

Don’t Bring a Knife to a Gun Fight, But Don’t Forget Your Frilly Red Pillow Either:
The Death of Masculinity and the Western Hero in The Shootist 

Working Women and Women’s Work:
Early Feminism – the Trite and the True

The Connection Between Understating and Understanding:
Tim O’Brien’s Omissions in “The Things They Carried” 

Mitford is Heaven on Earth – No, Seriously, Nobody Ever Dies – It’s Creepy:
Two-Dimensional Art and Storytelling in Jan Karon’s At Home in Mitford

Too Much Thinking Makes Me Kill People:
Anti-Intellectualism as Hamartia in Double Indemnity

All I Do Is Dream Of Me:
Dream Sequences and Language as Transitional Points in Singin’ In The Rain

Make a Graveyard of a Verse:
Common Elegiac Elements in Auden and Yeats

Of Course I’ll Marry You – I’m a Victorian, I Have No Choice:
Thomas Hardy’s Victorian Elements in Selected Poems and Prose

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