Finally, a 1-Word Title for an Academic Essay

Academic essays have notoriously long titles. The unspoken rule is that your title is something, colon, and then followed by something academic and “on the nose,” like “Dying to be Thin: An Ethnographic Exploration of Eating Disorders,” or, “My Father’s Keeper: A Rhetorical Investigation of Care-giving Narratives in Film.” Mind you, I just made those up. Play the game long enough and titles come to you like you’re a magician pulling rabbits out of hats. I’ve always wanted to write an essay with a 1-word title. I once told Dan Brouwer that I wish I titled my dissertation “Savannah”; the city had nothing to do with my dissertation, it just sounds dramatic, queer, and intriguing. Well, I finally authored a research project with a one-word title. It’s simply called “Dirty.” It’s a an autoethnographic account of child sex abuse that uses dirty work as its primary sensitizing concept. The title obviously plays on multiple significations of “dirty” that get teased out in the paper. There you have it. “Dirty.”