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Humor Studies Caucus

Humor studies has been a central part of American Studies since its inception, as marked by early scholarly contributions from Constance Rourke and Henry Nash Smith, who underscored the importance of humor as a key aspect of studying American character and ideology. The study of humor within American Studies is evolving from the nationalist paradigm of earlier scholarship to a post-nationalist paradigm based on connections between local communities and international mass media; on cross-cultural comparisons and contrasts; and on multi-lingual and multi-ethnic comic practices as central to understanding American humor.[1] The study of humor is also increasingly informed by interdisciplinary modes of inquiry that pay close attention to textual construction, historical context, and cultural norms and the dynamics of race, gender, class, region, sexuality, and other valences of positionality.

The Humor Studies Caucus works to support the critical study of all aspects of American humor at the annual American Studies meeting. Our goal is to create a network of scholars interested in the multidisciplinary study of American humor through a large number of approaches: material and visual culture; ethnography, history, and literary analysis; performance and film studies; audience and reception studies, etc.

We are pleased to welcome you to the Humor Studies Caucus of the American Studies Association. We invite and encourage all ASA members who are interested in exploring the place of humor in American Studies and promoting the study and teaching of humor within American Studies to join.

Contact: Jennifer Hughes : jahughes@averett.edu

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CFP for 2013 Conference

The Humor Studies Caucus of the American Studies Association is seeking papers for the 2012 ASA Conference:
American Studies Association Annual Meeting:

“Beyond the Logic of Debt, Toward an Ethics of Collective Dissent,”

November 21-24, 2013: Hilton Washington, DC

Proposals on any aspect of American Humor will be welcome,

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Humor Studies in San Juan, 2012

The Humor Studies Caucus of the American Studies Association organizes a number of panels each year for the annual American Studies Conference.  This year, we sponsored two panels and a business meeting.  The conference takes place this week in San Juan Puerto Rico, and the humor caucus panels are scheduled for Thursday.  In addition, other great humor based panels are scheduled for Friday and Sunday.

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Looking for Executive Committee Members

The Executive Committee of the Humor Studies Caucus is looking to add one or two members for an upcoming term.  We would definitely like to add at least one graduate student.

The responsibilities of the members would be to help organize at least one panel for submission to the ASA national conference each year, as well as one panel for a regional ASA conference.  Organizing panels involves soliciting papers, choosing participants, either writing or soliciting an abstract, and overseeing submission.  Often, the amount of work is less than organizing a single panel on one’s own. 

Benefits include being able to shape panels, including placing yourself on a panel as either a presenter or chair.  In addition, participation gets your name circulating in humor studies and the ASA and adds to your CV. 

Past participation in the Humor Studies Caucus will be considered a plus for being selected but is not necessary.  Please send a CV to Tracy Wuster at: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) by September 15.  Feel free to ask any questions not answered here.

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CFP: Teaching Humor and Race

Sponsored by the Humor Studies Caucus, this roundtable will explore the practices, possibilities, and pitfalls of the pedagogy of race and humor.  Most, if not all, American humor contains some element of racial meaning“from the central question of black laughter in representations of both ante- and post-bellum America to the complicated intersections of racial categories in 21st century stand-up.  Teaching about race through humor, and teaching the racial dimensions of humor, presents unique benefits and challenges. 

For this roundtable, participants will present (in 8-10 minutes) a theoretical quandary, insight, question, or inquiry into the connection between humor and race in the classroom.  Each presentation should be grounded in one main text“a novel, a stand-up performance, a movie or television show, a joke, a cartoon, etc.  We are especially interested in pieces that connect the study of humor and race to other categories of analysis, such as gender, region, sexuality, religion, class, and especially (given the conference theme) nation, empire, and transnationalism.

If you are interested, please contact Tracy Wuster at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) as soon as possible, but by January 13 at the latest.  Provide a general idea of your subject and your current ASA membership status.

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Postmodern Structures of Humor in America

The Humor Studies Caucus is assembling a panel that explores the postmodern turn in comedy and humor. While scholars have considered at length the postmodern content of literature, art, history, drama, and other cultural areas, there is a space for considering how postmodernism has manifested in humor in our contemporary moment. As we can see from television shows like 30 Rock and Community, self-referential, intertextual, absurd narratives are increasingly common in television and film. This panel will not only explore how postmodernism has manifested in comedy, but also what this development suggests about American cultural and political life.

Potential topics include self-referential comedy shows, the “mockumentary” medium, the politics of televisual satire, shifting forms of media consumption evidenced by cable-cutting, the cultural role of the stand-up comedian, the blending of comedy and news, do-it-yourself web series and podcasts, transnational comparative studies of postmodern humor, absurdist fiction and theater. Ideally, the conversation will address humor as expressed in a variety of forms and through a variety of media.

Please send proposals and inquiries to Carrie Andersen at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) by January 8, 2011.  Please also include current ASA membership status.

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