The Rhetoric of Humor A Bedford Spotlight Reader

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  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 8/19/2016
  • Publisher: Bedford/St. Martin's

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The Rhetoric of Humor explores questions around the central concept of humor and comedic writing: What takes place when we laugh? When might jokes be inappropriate? What is the role of humor in a democratic society? How does one write an effective comedic argument? Readings by comedians, philosophers, journalists, cartoonists, sociologists, activists and others take up these issues and more. Questions and assignments for each selection provide a range of activities for students, while the website for the Spotlight Series offers comprehensive instructor support with sample syllabi and additional teaching resources.
The Bedford Spotlight Reader Series is an exciting line of single-theme readers, each featuring Bedford’s trademark care and quality. An Editorial Board of more than a dozen compositionists at schools focusing on specific themes assists in the development of the series. The readers in the series collect thoughtfully chosen readings sufficient for an entire writing course—about 35 selections—to allow instructors to provide carefully developed, high-quality instruction at an affordable price. Bedford Spotlight Readers are designed to help students make inquiries from multiple perspectives, opening up topics such as monsters, borders, subcultures, happiness, money, food, sustainability, and gender to critical analysis. The readers are flexibly arranged in thematic chapters, each focusing in depth on a different facet of the central topic.

Author Biography

Kirk Boyle is an assistant professor in the Department of English at the University of North Carolina Asheville, where he teaches courses on rhetoric and composition, American literature and culture, modernity studies, and critical theory. Originally from Pittsburgh, he received his B.A. in English from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and his M.A. and Ph.D. in English and Comparative Literature from the University of Cincinnati. He is the author of The Rhetoric of Humor, part of the Bedford Spotlight Reader series, and the co-editor of The Great Recession in Fiction, Film, and Television: Twenty-First-Century Bust Culture.

Table of Contents

Preface for Instructors  

Contents by Discipline  

Contents by Theme  

Introduction for Students   

Chapter 1: Act: What Takes Place When We Laugh?  

Leon Rappoport, What Makes Us Laugh  

John Morreall, From Lucy to "I Love Lucy": The Evolution of Humor   

Joel Warner, One Professor’s Attempt to Explain Every Joke Ever  

Sigmund Freud, Humor   

Jeffrey Klassen, He Looked into the Grim Reaper’s Eyes and Nervously Laughed  

Chapter 2: Scene: When and Where Does Humor Occur?   

Caitlin Flanagan, That’s Not Funny!   

Simon Critchley, Foreigners Are Funny: The Ethicity and Ethnicity of Humor  

Daniel Harris, How Many Light-Bulb Jokes Does It Take to Chart an Era?  

Katherine Leyton, Laughing It Off  

Michael V. Tueth, Breaking and Entering: Transgressive Comedy on Television  

Aleks Krotoski, What Effect Has the Internet Had on Comedy?  

Ian Crouch, Is Social Media Ruining Comedy?  

Chapter 3: Agent: Who (or What) Is a Comedian?    

Matt Buchanan, Why Twitter Parody Accounts Should Stay Anonymous   

Chris Bachelder, The Dead Chipmunk: An Interrogation into the Mechanisms of Jokes   

Tamar Jeffers McDonald, Romantic Comedy and Genre  

Amanda Lynch Morris, Native American Stand-Up Comedy  

Alan Shain, Perspectives on Comedy and Performance as Radical Disability Activism  

Karley Sciortino, Why Amy Schumer Is an Amazing Feminist  

Jennifer Reed, Sexual Outlaws: Queer in a Funny Way  

Chapter 4: Purpose: What Is the Function of Satire in a Democratic Society?  

Joe Sacco, On Satire: A Response to the Charlie Hebdo Attacks  

Tim Parks, The Limits of Satire   

Russell L. Peterson, Losing Our Religion  

Elizabeth Kolbert, Stooping to Conquer  

Steve Almond, The Joke’s on You  

Amber Day, Moving Beyond Critique  

Daniel J. Kenny, How John Oliver Usurped a Genre  

Chapter 5: Agency: How Do You Write a Comic Argument?  

Franklin Ajaye, First Steps to Becoming a Stand-Up Comedian   

Megh Wright, How Improv Helps Television’s Best Comedy Writers  

Conor Friedersdorf, A Modest Proposal: Don't Worry About Government Surveillance at All, Ever  

Michael Kimmel, Ritualized Sexuality in Nacirema Subculture   

Julia Drake, The Boy from Jurassic Park’s College Application Essay   

Paul Davidson, Consumer Joe  

Baratunde Thurston, How to Be the Black Employee   

Christian Lander, Stuff White People Like   

Index of authors and titles

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