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Download e-book for kindle: A Very Serious Thing: Women's Humor and American Culture by Nancy A. Walker

By Nancy A. Walker

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

"It is a really severe 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 continually ignored through 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 well known opinion, girls do have a feeling of humor.

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

Humorous expression, Walker keeps, is at odds with the culturally sanctioned excellent of the "lady," and lots more and plenty of women's humor turns out to just accept, whereas truly denying, this excellent. in truth, so much of yank women's funny writing has been a feminist critique of yank tradition and its attitudes towards girls, based on the author.

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

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He operated on the theory that the male of the species was rough and crude, and needed the softening and 42 The Male Tradition and the Female Tradition refining influence of a woman, or, if necessary, many women. " In Gender, Fantasy, and Realism in American Literature, Alfred Habegger argues a similar proposition when he adds the contrast between gender roles to the conventional analysis of the origins of an American humorous tradition. Habegger notes that "the voluminous critical literature on American humor has yet to come to terms with the American habit of regarding humor as in some way masculine," and proceeds to explain that pervasive masculinity in the following analysis: At a time when being a lady sometimes meant being a corseted artificial sentimentalist, the relaxed, ill-dressed loafing man supplied the literary comedians with the mask that formed the basis of their humor.

Thus editor Neal, in his eagerness to entice Mrs. Whitcher to write more humorous sketches about the Widow Bedott for his Saturday Gazette, attributed to her a role in American culture that the culture itself did not recognize her as having. A second irony is that Frances Whitcher, in her creation of the Widow Spriggins, the Widow Bedott, and Aunt Maguire—her major humorous personae—did indeed endeavor to alter society: specifically to rid women of their sentimentality and their awkward pretentions to gentility.

Whitcher's congregation. He resigned his pastorate in Elmira in 1849 and moved with his wife to Whiteboro, New York, where Frances Whitcher died in 1852. Her last work, unfinished at her death, was a conventional novel titled Mary Elmer. The third and most important irony in Joseph Neal's statement about the effectiveness of humor to "speak... to the general ear and heart" is that the majority of America's female humorists have, like Frances Whitcher, spoken from women's experience to the "general ear and heart" in order to alter social attitudes and behavior or point to injustices to women promulgated by American culture.

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