Saturday, 2 April 2005

title TBA

I intend to finish and submit my PhD dissertation in March of next year, 2006 (she says, as she writes blog not thesis.) Australian readers who do academe will most likely already know about the PhD process here: one chooses a topic and a supervisor, one says 'Seeya', one does a three to seven year stretch in solitary confinement, one re-emerges blinking into the daylight clutching a 90 000 word manuscript, which is read and assessed by three basically random stranger academics, and passed or failed by those readers. We do no coursework. This has good and bad points: good in that the finished dissertation is already very close to publishable book form, bad in that getting it written is a bit like mentally shitting a hovercraft. But I digress.

In order to tee up those three random stranger academics (who each get paid something like AU$300 to compile pedantic lists of typos in your text), you have to give your university at least three months notice of your intention to submit a thesis for examination. So I will need to do that quite soon. I already have a shortlist of people who I want to ask for as examiners, no problem there, but I'm not getting anywhere with thinking up a title for the dissertation.

And it has to have a title.

The working title on file is so cringe-inducingly bad that I'm not even going to hint what it is. (Just think pretentious-vague-wordy-cliched.) Older books titles in my field don't suggest much, except as tremendous examples of where not to go and what not to do. Look at these:

You see there is kind of a 'tradition of lameness' thing going on here. So any type of variation on the 'novels and films' 'novels into films' 'film and literature' 'film adaptation', 'novel adaptation' etc, is RIGHT OUT. (There is also the intensely annoying sub-genre, 'Author X On Screen', 'Author X At The Movies', GOD, we won't even start on those.) Here are some more things I cannot have in my title because they are completely effing tragic:

- puns
- format "pithy quotation, full colon, witty subtitle"
- actually any format involving a colon
- the words 'cinematic' and 'filmic'
- the word 'adaption' (it's AD-AP-TATION, people. Thankyou.)

and for preference I would like few or no Latinisms, which is kind of hard given that the subject of the thing is adaptation.

It has occurred to me that maybe I should just abdicate responsibility for the whole thing and set up an auction for the naming rights on ebay, like those people who sell off the name of their unborn children. But what puts me off is just knowing how depressing it would be if nobody bid, or if only one or two people bid and I didn't end up making vast sums of money in exchange for the sacrifice of my dignity. (just on that: have you ever searched 'dissertation' or 'testamur' on ebay? It doesn't always turn up the real thing, but sometimes you'll get someone attempting to flog copies of their thesis, 'just to test the market', oh my lord.)

Here are some ideas I've had:

Adaptation - The Very Last Word On The Subject.
(my personal favourite, so far)
World's Wildest Adaptations (Caught on Camera)
It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad Adaptation

Clearly none of these are all that suitable.

Got any suggestions? Please??


Phantom Scribbler said...

Ask Rana over at Frogs and Ravens for help. She's alarmingly good at it.

Mel said...

My thesis ended up being called "Bogan: Examining Images of Australian Cultural Marginalisation" which I am proud to say fits most of your criteria for crap titles. Except the puns, although I often wanted to call it, "Bogan Bogan Bogan, Rawhide!"

katy said...

oh god! I too am so over the quote/snappy title: descriptively witty/pretentious subtitle formula. I've already started on my defection away from this in conference papers and such.

My own earlier thesis was actually just a joke in the beginning - pun, colon, impenentrable subtitle. But I couldn't think of anything else! I got this solid mental block. Which meant that I had to keep it in the end...

My working title of the PhD thesis is so general and non-specific as to leave me open to many new imaginings when I approach my submission date. So I'll be eyeing your own progress carefully for pointers ;)

Lucy Tartan said...

Hi Katy, are you back from Sin City?

Mel, I am *so* getting your thesis from interlibrary loans. I HAVE the call number. If they won't send it, fine, I'll just go read it in the Baillieu.

I hope there's a lot about bogan baby names.

Which reminds me: I need your expert opinion on this - is 'Jaidyn' for the 2000s what 'Azaria' was for the 1980s?

Ben.H said...

I'd go with your favourite (perhaps with "For Christ's Sake" at the end), otherwise:

My Thesis: Now a Major Motion Picture
Adaptation: Not the Movie
Adopted for Film (just to confuse your examiners)
No, But I've Read the Book

Okay, this last one is actually a short essay by Guy Davenport but it's my favourite title on the subject. You cd put it as a quote, followed by one of those hateful colons.

Is the fad for using (paren)theses and sla/she/s in academic vocabulary finally over?

Also, I thought in Australia you can't name your examiners (they're supposed to be anonymous) but you can name people who you will not allow to examine your work.

Lucy Tartan said...

Nice ideas, Ben. I'll investigate whether the bookbinders can do the crazy broken font from the opening credits of Psycho.

There is already a book called No, But I saw The Movie.

I think they are less bothered about those dull formalities at my uni. The Research office asks my supervisor to recommend some suitable names, and my supervisor asks me. I'm not meant to know till the reports come back. But everyone who's submitted recently has know who their examiners were.

Brownie said...

re adapting novel for film - in 1990 I met a fellow hotel guest in Los Angeles with a british accent, asked him why he was there, he said he was trying to get his J P Donleavy Ginger Man filmed. I am sure I recall him saying he had been working on this for years, and it seems that he has not succeeded yet. ( I hope I got the title right) As William Goldman apparently remarked about the film industry 'nobody knows anything'.

Brownie said...

Novilms Filnovels Filmovels Filmooks Cinemarature Literanema Literanathema, Novelist's POV?

Lucy Tartan said...

ooh. I like those. 'Literanathema' bout sums up a lot of things...

Anonymous said...

I love the title colon subtitle thing and I don't care if it's so last academic fashion. It means you can be as silly as you like in the title and still make sense.

Swan to Ugly Duckling.

"Gutted, I felt gutted" cried the writer

Running the Mincer Backwards

"If you wanted that, why did you pay me?"; the strange, strange story of adaptation in the cinema

"This Won't Hurt a Bit"

and a couple of serious ones -

"Opened up and Worked Over": adaptation in the cinema

"I thought my contract said you wouldn't do that": adaptation and the cinema

(from my particular perspective, that last one is both funny and true).

- barista

Lucy Tartan said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Lucy Tartan said...

Probably I should have mentioned that the thesis is pro-adaptation. There didn't seem much point spending five years thinking about something I thought was a global bunch of crap.

katy said...

i am indeed back in the 'hood. And happy to be so...

I meant to, but failed to mention the title my guy suggested for my thesis which has remained my favourite, and which will always be it's One True Name even if not made public (in an academic environment):

Penetrating the Aural Rectum

It's his own playful jab at my current research interests (the corporeal perception of film sound) and my early obsession with queer theory. I lahv eet.

maybe you need to get someone to use a similar formula for your own work ;)

Ben.H said...

Ah yes, your supervisor is going the "informal" route for finding examiners. Just don't let the admin people find out: they get shirty about that sort of thing.

Anonymous said...

Adaptations are great. It's just that the writer so often feels trashed. And there is no way around it.

To be serious, I think film and television writers know that they have no ownership of anything stable; they are just responsible for one part in an advancing wave of creativity.

Not so true in some other cultures, mind you.

- barista

Brownie said...

that morning gregor samsa awoke to find his book had turned into a film..
Bookmorphing. bookmorphosis. booklulloid.
'No, but I saw the film' seems very 'accessible'.
as Basil Fawlty said ' the thesis was a snip. now for the tricky bit'
of course the thesis is irrelevant - the degree is awarded for coming up with THE TITLE!

Zoe said...


It really should have an exclaimation mark, I think.