A Very Serious Thing: Women's Humor and American Culture by Nancy A. Walker

By Nancy A. Walker

A Very severe factor was first released in 1988. Minnesota Archive variations makes use of electronic know-how to make long-unavailable books once more available, and are released unaltered from the unique collage of Minnesota Press editions.

"It is a truly critical factor to be a humorous woman." –Frances Miriam Berry Whitcher

A Very critical Thing is the 1st book-length learn of part of American literature that has been continuously missed by way of students and underrepresented in anthologies—American women's funny writing. Nancy Walker proposes that the yank funny culture to be redefined to incorporate women's humor in addition to men's, simply because, opposite to renowned opinion, girls do have a feeling of humor.

Her e-book attracts on historical past, sociology, anthropology, literature, and psychology to posit that the explanations for overlook of women's funny expression are rooted in a male-dominated tradition that has formally denied ladies the liberty and self-confidence necessary to the stand-up comedian. instead of a examine of person writers, the ebook is an exploration of relationships among cultural realities—including expectancies of "true womanhood"—and women's funny reaction to these realities.

Humorous expression, Walker continues, is at odds with the culturally sanctioned perfect of the "lady," and lots more and plenty of women's humor turns out to just accept, whereas truly denying, this perfect. in truth, such a lot of yank women's funny writing has been a feminist critique of yankee tradition and its attitudes towards ladies, in accordance with the author.

Show description

Read or Download A Very Serious Thing: Women's Humor and American Culture PDF

Similar cultural books

A Vision for London, 1889-1914: labour, everyday life and the LCC experiment

The booklet assessments the imaginative and prescient of the early London County Council (LCC) and of its leaders, the London Progressives, opposed to its rules and achievements. It records struggles to alter social and exertions stipulations, to persuade public tradition and to rent aspiring younger visionaries--both males and women--into white collar jobs.

Africanizing Anthropology: Fieldwork, Networks, and the Making of Cultural Knowledge in Central Africa

Africanizing Anthropology tells the tale of the anthropological fieldwork headquartered on the Rhodes-Livingstone Institute in Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia) throughout the mid-twentieth century. targeting collaborative tactics instead of at the job of person researchers, Lyn Schumaker offers the assistants and informants of anthropologists a relevant position within the making of anthropological wisdom.

Language identity modernity: the Arabic Study Circle of Durban

Revealing a neighborhood of variety in Nineteen Fifties South Africa, this leading edge learn introduces readers to the linguistic, non secular, and cultural international of the Arabic research Circle, shaped within the port urban of Durban. the boys who led the organization have been heart classification Indian Muslims, talking Gujurati, who got here jointly to look for which means and authenticity via studying and dialog.

On the margins : U.S. Americans in a border town to Mexico

Johannes Wilm, organizer, activist and social anthropologist from Oslo, Norway, is going off to dwell in and examine Douglas, AZ, a border city to Mexico, for part a yr. at the start sight, Douglas appears like not anything greater than a run down corporation city -- after the Phelps avert smelter left within the Eighties. apparently even though, Wilm discovers that outdated modes of social stratification disappeared including the roles.

Extra resources for A Very Serious Thing: Women's Humor and American Culture

Sample text

Her existence is a threat to women like Samantha because she represents culturally sanctioned norms for women's behavior —norms that undermine the feminist consciousness that Samantha represents. Even though Betsey is an exaggerated figure, she embodies the majority culture's definition of woman's role, which Samantha must resist, as in the following exchange: I have always felt [says Betsey] that it was woman's highest speah [sic], her only mission to soothe, to cling, to smile, to coo. . I feel that you do not feel as I do in this matter, you do not feel that it is woman's greatest privilege, her crowning blessing, to soothe lacerations, to be a sort of poultice to the noble, manly breast when it is torn with the cares of life.

23 Two factors, however, complicate the role of the woman as humorist. One is the cultural identification of womanhood with subordination rather than superiority, with passivity rather than prescience. Hoiley's Samantha is rare among women's humorous personae, as is Dorothy Parker's fabled wit. "24 A second factor affecting the woman as humorist is her very "apartness" from the culture in which she lives. From the nineteenthcentury sewing society to the post-World War II suburbs, which Phyllis McGinley dubbed the "village of women,"25 women have in many ways inhabited a separate reality from that of men: a largely domestic reality involving housework and children instead of business and politics.

As is the case in women's literature generally, the culture the writer describes is the one that she inhabits, which has significant differences from the majority culture. In some ways, in fact, as I will argue in a later chapter, women's humor resembles closely the humor of a racial or ethnic minority. As corollary to this point, the audience for women's humor, as has also been true of women's literature generally, is primarily other women. "27 Put simply, men have increasingly found her work amusing and relevant because they understand what she is writing about.

Download PDF sample

Rated 4.31 of 5 – based on 36 votes