Costantini: Academic Paper Titles: The Bullshit Dialectic and the Homoerotic Other

Paper titles are the loveliest and the silliest part of academia. We write them at the peak of exhaustion and desperation, most often after the paper is finished.

In wee-est of hours, stomach turning from too many cheesie-nips, pretentious summations of our scholarship emerge from a deep, beautiful place in our collectivized souls (and from left-click-synonym-thesaurus inserts that embolden us to use words like “summations.” And “collectivized”).

In this early-morning delirium, obnoxious gerunds and made-up words flow best: We performaticize her, engenderize him, problematize this, and normativize that.

The pretension is of course only encouraged by the solace that only one person will actually have to read the paper (aside from the rare time-permitted maternal edits: “You forgot a comma here! But, I really like your paper! What a funky title you chose! Should I send an umbrella for the rain? I hear there’s a lot of rain in New Haven. Are your boots holding up? Also, I ran into your kindergarten friend’s cousin’s baby sister in the store today and she said he was moving to … ”)

The product of my obsession is the compiling of imaginary paper titles I would like to see written. Game Time, y’all!

Below you will find a short list of real and imagined scholarly titles. Half of these have been turned in by Yale students (my friends) and graded by Yale professors (probably no longer my friends), and half of these I have made up. See if you can tell! (And, thank you to all my friends who let me share the intimate and sometimes embarrassing products of exhaustion, desperation and pretension.)

1) “Beautiful Paper” [an essay about the band U2]

2) “The Body? The Body”

3) “Poop 2.0: Defecating in the Digital Age”

4) “Dog and Men at Yale: Judeo-Canine Values in the Age of William F. Barkley”

5) “Dog Sees the Truth, But Waits: Canine Psychology in Anna Karenina”

6) “Oh Sauce!: Acculturating the Pork Arepa”

7) “Panic! On the Yazoo: Land Pirates, Slaves, and Criminal Abolitionists”

8) “Post-Imperialism Imperialism in the Post-War War”

9) “No Means ‘Yes, We Can’: The Audacity of DKE”

10) “The Gentleman, The Scholar, and the Jolly Good Meathead: A Rhetorical Analysis of the DKE Incident”

11) “For God, For Country, For Kale: Securalizing Lettuce in the American Subconscious”

12) “If A Cheeseburger Falls in the Woods And No One Is Watching, Does It Taste Good?: Perception in Aristotle’s De Amina”

13) “Building. Dwelling. Balling.: Heidegger, the Four-Fold, and the Architecture of Sports Stadiums”

14) “A Woman’s Right to Booze: Deconstructing the Feminist Narrative of Marginalized S.W.U.G. Communities”

15) “Wasps, Aunts, and Belly Moms”

16) “‘Tik Tok’: Ke$ha’s Problematization of the Standardized Timepiece in First-World Rituals”

17) “‘Your Love Is My Drug’: Ke$ha’s Supratextual Examination of Narco-Culture in the Contemporary Amorous Ceremony”

18) “‘We R Who We R’: Ke$ha’s Rhetorical Summation of Self-Definition in a Post-Racialized, Post-Gendered Age”

19) “From Trap-Lines to MacBook Pros: The story of the Cree, Inuit, and Hydro-Quebec, sovereignty, native rights, and the future”

20) “‘Please Remove Me From This Panlist’: Cybergroups and the Digital Other”

21) “Senior Class Gift: Pathologizing the Non-Giver in Collectivized Capitalist Gift-Economy”

22) “The fluid, flippant, and forlorn sides of urban homosexual life in post-war America”

23) “Discussing Silence: An Oral History Project on the Social Contract and the Political Movement for Gay Visibility”

24) “Katy Perry’s ‘California Gurls’: Memory and Womanhood in Geographical Isolation, Daisy Dukes, Bikinis on Top”

25) “A POZitive Reading of Saint Foucault: Bug Chasing and Its Implications for Queer Theory”

26) “From Tennis to Catherine Mackinnon to AIDS — envisioning homosexuality from the outside”

27) “What is it about the ‘Ghost Ship’ anyways?”

28) “Habermas’ Theory of Defecative Rationality: Pooping in the Public Square”

29) “Jakobsen’s Poetic and Metalingual Functions in the First Scene of Tom Stoppard’s ‘Arcadia’”

30) “Springtime Trope: The Many Forms of Autolycus” (Max Hendrickson)

Actual paper titles: 1 (Anonymous), 2 (Alison Gates ’11), 5 (William Dockendorf ’11), 7 (Anonymous), 8 (Gates), 10 (Claire Seaver ’11), 12 (Dockendorf), 13 (Marcus Hooks ’09), 15 (Seaver), 19 (Anonymous), 22 (Anonymous), 23 (Gabriel Seidman ’11), 25 (Seidman), 26 (Anonymous), 27 (Maxwell Barbakow ’11), 29 (Rachel Wolf ’11), 30 (Maxwell Hendrickson ’11).

Comments

  • Leah

    Thanks for writing this. My friends and I made a parlor game out of guessing which were true at lunch. Quite enjoyable!

  • uncommons

    Great article, even better title. YDN could always use some more humor pieces