AHSA/MTC in New Orleans 2014

 “New Orleans food is delicious as the less criminal forms of sin.”

—Mark Twain


American Humor Studies Association

Mark Twain Circle of America


Fifth Quadrennial Conference


December 4 – 7, 2014


New Orleans, LA

Sheraton Four Points Hotel

French Quarter


 Conference Directors

Janice McIntire-Strasburg

Saint Louis University, St. Louis, MO


Ann M. Ryan

Le Moyne College, New York


Thursday, December 4, 2014


1:00-2:15pm               The Coen Brothers: Humoring Form and Adaptation


Session Chair: Ann M. Ryan, Le Moyne College


  • “Romancing the American Dream: The Coen Brothers’ Raising Arizona and the Romantic Comedy Formula”

Jeffrey Melton, University of Alabama


  • “Hitting the Road: The Coen Brothers’ Journey through Film Adaptation”

Julie Grossman, Le Moyne College


  • Respondent: Ann M. Ryan, Le Moyne College



2:15-3:30pm               History, The Novel, and Autobiography: Humor By Genre


Session Chair: Janice McIntire-Strasburg, St. Louis University


  • “The Personal is Performative: Race, Satire and the Post-Soul Autobiography”

Danielle Fuentes Morgan, Cornell University


  • “ ‘Alternately a Snarl and Laughter’: Black Humor and the new Southern Gothic in Harry Crews’ A Feast of Snakes

David Buehrer, Valdosta State University


  • “The Regenerative Reconstruction of American History Through African American Humor in the Novels of Ishmael Reed and Percival Everett”

Paul Mahaffey, University of Montevallo



3:45-5:00pm               Telling it like it is(n’t): Mark Twain and the Language of Power


Session Chair: Ben Click, St. Mary’s College, Maryland


  • “Vernacular Humor as Anti-Imperialist Ideology in King Leopold’s Soliloquy”

Judith Yaross Lee, Ohio University, Athens


  • “How the Other Half Lives: Twain goes Slumming”

Ann M. Ryan, Le Moyne College


Respondent: Ben Click, St. Mary’s College, Maryland

Friday, December 5, 2014

Breakfast: 8:30 – 9am


9 – 10:15am                           MAD Magazine and its Humor


Session Chair: Ann M. Ryan, Le Moyne College

  • “MAD about Poe,”

Dennis Eddings, Western Oregon University


  • “Wally Wood: Eroticism and Discontent in the Pages of MAD,”

Joseph W. Slade, Ohio University, Athens



10:30am – 11:45pm               The Tramp at 100


Session Chair: Julie Grossman, Le Moyne College

  • “Cross-Textual Tramp: How Chaplin’s Screen Persona Surpassed 100 Years,”

Lisa Haven, Ohio University, Zanesville


  • “The Power of Sound in Creating Humor: Chaplin the Pioneer in Audio-Gags,”

Aner Preminger, The Hebrew University, Jerusalem, Sapir College, Sderot


  • “Without the Coogan Boy It Couldn’t Be Done: How the Kid Revealed New Facets of Chaplin’s Tramp Persona and Set a New Course for American Comedy,”

Carrie Pomeroy, Independent Scholar


11: 45- 1:15: Lunch


1: 15 – 2:30 pm          The Wild Strain’: Twain and His Successors Craft a Humorous Tradition of Nature Writing


Session Chair: James Caron, University of Hawaii, Manoa

  • “’A Strain of Wildness’:  Twain’s Presence in late 20th and early 21st Nature Writers”

Ben Click, St. Mary’s College, Maryland


  • “Urbanites Abroad:  Nature in the Humor of The New Yorker”

Brian O’Sullivan, St. Mary’s College, Maryland


  • “When the Sky is Falling, Why Humor?”

Kate Chandler, St. Mary’s College, Maryland




2:45-4:00pm   Persona, the Physical, and the Performative in Gendered Humor


Session Chair: TBA

  • “Persona, Politics and Jeaneane Garafolo’s Right-Wing Media Reception”

Rachel Eliza Blackburn, University of Kansas


  • “Feminine, Funny, and Fat: Restoring Sexuality and Femininity to the Fat Female Body, Joshua Lopez, Univerity of Texas, El Paso


  • “Laughter and Performative Utopia in Gilda Radner’s Gilda, Live!

Margaret McFadden, Colby College


  • “Kathryn Hepburn and ‘Box Office Poison’ in Hollywood Comedy: Bringing Up Baby, Holiday, and Philadelphia Story

Sheri Chinen- Bieson, Rowan University



4:15 – 5: 30pm                       New Media, New Humor:

How Do We Do it and Who is Watching/Listening


Session Chair: David E. Sloane, University of New Haven

  • “A New Economy of Jokes: Hashtag Social Media, Hashtag Comedy”

Rebecca Krefting, Skidmore College, Rebecca Baruc, Skidmore College


  • “The End of the Crowd as We Know It: Dissemination, Deracination, and the Cultural Work of American Comic Discourse,” Bruce Michelson, Emeritus, University of Illinois, Champaign Urbana


  • “The New Confessional Comedy: Intimacy and the Environment of Podcasting”

Justin Van Wormer, City University of New York


  • “Truth or Truthiness? The New Humor in Early 20th Century America: Buster Keaton’s Playhouse”

Rich Des Rochers, Long Island University







Saturday, December 6, 2014

Breakfast: 8:30 – 9am


9 – 10:15am: Undergraduate Roundtable: Wine and War Crimes: The Interwar Social Commentary of Joseph Kesserling’s Black Comedy in Arsenic and Old Lace


Session Chair: Jennifer Hughes, Averett University

Panelists:         Alexander Argentieri, Ricardo Corrales, Becca Mann, Katelyn Riddle

Averett University


10:30am – 11:45pm   Picturing Twain


Session Chair: Bruce Michelson

  • “Taking Mark Twain Lying Down: Those Photos of Sam Clemens in Bed,” James Caron, University of Hawaii, Manoa


  • “Muddling Toward the Modern: How the American Publishing Company and Mark Twain Reimagined Visuals at the Turn of the Century” Debra Cochran, St. Louis University



11:45-1:15: Lunch



1:15 – 2:30pm            Stand Up, Politics, and the Subversive Nature of Humor


Session Chair: TBA

  • “Jackie ‘Moms’ Mabley and Dick Gregory: The Humor of Two African American Comics and their Discourse on Civil Rights Issues of the 60s,”

David E. Hoffman, Averett University


  • “Asleep to Believe It: George Carlin’s American Dream,”

Rob Ribera, Boston University


  • “Knock, Knock/ Who’s There: Social Organization Joke Cycles Post-9/11,” Darcy Mullen, University of Albany, SUNY









2:45-4:00pm                           Humor, Whiteness, Color and Masculinity:

The Work of Stand Up Comedy


Session Chair: Peter Kunze, University of Texas at Austin

  • “From Richard Pryor to Kevin Hart: African Americans and Stand Up Concert Films,”

Keith Corson, New York University


  • “Louis CK’s Little White Lies: Performing Whiteness as Ideologiekritik,”

Peter Kunze, University of Albany, SUNY


“Subversion and Surrogacy: White Men Standing-Up against Patriarchy,” Jared Champion, Young Harris College.



4:15-5:30pm   Down East, Southwest, and the Reformers of Humor


Session Chair: Tracy Wuster

  • “Humor and Reformers in the Nineteenth-Century”

Theresa Prados-Torreira, Columbia College, Chicago


  • “Humor on the Urban Frontier,” David E.E. Sloane, University of New Haven


  • “You Can’t Get There from Here: In Search of Downeast Humor on the Borderlands of Maine”

Peter M. Robinson, College of Mount St. Joseph


Sunday, December 7, 2014

Breakfast: 8:30 – 9am



9 – 10:15am               Humor in 19th Century Texts, and Why It Still Matters


Session Chair: Janice McIntire-Strasburg, St. Louis University


  • “Silent, and Not So Silent Sabotage in Charles Chestnutt’s ‘The Passing of Grandison’” Gretchen Martin, University of Virginia


  • “Before and After the War: The Necessity of Including Page’s “Mars Chan” in the Constellation of American Humor,” Tracy Wuster, University of Texas at Austin


  • “Sober Mirth and Licentious Jest: Exploring the Paradoxes of Colonial Puritan Humor,” Patrick Brooks, Saint Louis University