Colon: Punctuation of Doom, Helpful Mark, or Publishing Wankery?

The Chronicle of Higher Education reports on the use of colons and subtitles in academic publishing. Some editors and authors argue that university publishers have overused the “title: subtitle” format in an attempt to make book titles either more descriptive or catchier.

Some examples from the Chronicle piece: With All, and for the Good of All: The Emergence of Popular Nationalism in the Cuban Communities of the United States, 1848-1898 (Duke University Press); Essential Subtleties on the Silver Sea: The Yin-Hai Jing-Wei: A Chinese Classic on Ophthalmology (University of California Press); Edwin J. Cohn and the Development of Protein Chemistry: With a Detailed Account of His Work on the Fractionation of Blood During and After World War II (Harvard University Press); and (my own favorite example) My Story as Told by Water: Confessions, Druidic Rants, Reflections, Bird-Watchings, Fish-Stalkings, Visions, Songs and Prayers Refracting Light, From Living Rivers, in the Age of the Industrial Dark (University of California Press).

[via Arts & Letters Daily]


One thought on “Colon: Punctuation of Doom, Helpful Mark, or Publishing Wankery?

  1. I propose the title “Colonic Literature” for, particularly, academic papers abusing colons in their titles. This is a useful distinction, as such papers form a class, their content having strong similarities in the use of jargon-as-content.

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