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