Frosted Mini-Wheat Titles

Every year, we get the same sad parade essays with lackluster titles such as Of Mice and Men, 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. For your titles, come up with something we might not ever see again for as long as we 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,  divide your title up so that the frosted side is on top, the crusty side is on the bottom, but if one of your two titles is far longer than the other, you may wish to reduce it. DO NOT put your own title in boldface or italics – the only italicized part of your title is when you write the title of the novel, play, short story (etc.) that you are discussing.

Some style suggestions: For the sugary, fun side, go crazy. Literally nothing is off limits, other than vulgarity and the like. 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. No fluff. 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

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



Girl, 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:

The Death of Masculinity and the Western Hero in The Shootist 


Working Women and Women’s Work:

Morality in Early Feminist Short Fiction


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 Fatal Flaw in Double Indemnity

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