“People have gone hog-wild with colons.”

An article in this week’s The Chronicle of Higher Education

(“No Mark of Distinction” –
password required)

examines the use of colons in academic book titles.

Several university press editors weight in on the subject: most begrudgingly accept their use.

Many scholarly works include a teaser title, followed by a more descriptive one
(e.g., “The divided mind: ideology and imagination in America, 1898-1917”).

Supposedly the colon is a mark of distinction.

The Dillion Hypothesis of Titular Colonicity even claims that they are “the primary correlate of scholarship”

(although I’m
about that).

The use of colons and longer titles in general are

both a throwback to the grandiose inscripts of yesteryear
(e.g., “Observations on man, his frame, his duty, and his expectations”)

and bear similarities to the

search engine-optimized titles

used by some web pages.