Teaching American Humor: Back to School

Editors of Humor in America

As many of us prep our syllabi and get ready to head back to school, some of our readers will be so lucky as to get to teach humor to their students–either in a specifically focused class or in a more general context.  One of the founding goals of this website was the importance of the pedagogical discussion of humor.  Amy Wright, Laura Hernandez-Ehrisman, and Tracy Wuster discussed some of these issues in An Educated Sense of Humor.

Our writers have taken on a number of topics related to teaching humor.  Sharon McCoy and Tracy Wuster have both taken up E.B. White’s famous saying about humor and dissecting a frog (here, here, and here).  Jeff Melton and Sharon McCoy have written on teaching satire:

Teaching the Irony of Satire (Ironically)

Embracing the Ambiguity and Irony of Satire: A Response to Jeff Melton

Teaching American Satire: A New Piece for the Classroom from the Onion

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Jeff has also started a series about teaching humor:

Teaching American Sitcoms: Ode to The Beverly Hillbillies

Teaching American Sitcoms: Shall We Gather Round the Table?

What is Funny: Using Surveys in Teaching Humor

Teaching American Humor: What Should Be Taught?

Laughing with Laugh Tracks

The BCS of American College Football Humor

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To which we could add Sharon McCoy’s pieces:

Teaching Humor with Multicultural Texts; Teaching Multiculturalism with Humor

If I Hear it Again, I Swear I’ll Scream: Hemingway, Huck Finn, and “Cheating”

Poetry Corner–Paul Laurence Dunbar: Changing the Joke to Slip the Yoke

Other pieces on the site aren’t specifically focused on pedagogy, but they do touch on related questions.  Tom Inge’s Politics and the American Sense of Humor launched the website just over 2 years (and 185k views) ago.  Michael Kiskis’s The Critics Dream Mark Twain: Adventures of Huckleberry Finn also helped launch our site.  Both pieces offer insight into the cultural roles of American humor, and both have proved to be popular over the course of the site’s life.

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In perusing the list of pieces on the site over these last two years, there are too many strong discussions of humor to list here.  Pieces of interest in relation to teaching humor might be:

The Muppets: An Exercise in Humorous Metacinematic Irony by Michael Purgason

REMEMBERING DICK GREGORY by Sam Sackett

Humor, Irony and Modern Native American Poetry by Caroline Sposto

Five Subjects Behind: Some thoughts on grunge, time machines, and “Clam Chow-Dah!” by Tracy Wuster

The Funny Thing about Cancer by Sharon McCoy

Parody: A Lesson by Don and Alleen Nilsen

Studying Stephen Colbert: Nation, who is the most important humorist of the day? by Tracy Wuster

The Onion and How Comedy Deals with Tragedy (Or Not) by Matthew Daube

Meta-Racist Airplane Jokes: The Foolish Audience and Didactic Humor by Philip Scepanski

The Mount Rushmore of Mount Rushmores by ABE

Humor Studies: An Interview with Don Nilsen

Mojo Medicine: Humor, Healing and the Blues by Matt Powell

The Pitfalls of Activist Humor by Bonnie Applebeet

Power Girl and Girl Power (Or, How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love the Bombshell) by David B. Olsen

In the Archives: Mr. Dooley in Peace and War, “On the Indian War” by Luke Deitrich

And so many others… if you wish to write something about humor and learnin’, please write the editor.  We’d love to have more.

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