Revised and ratified January/February 2018



The name of the organization shall be THE AMERICAN HUMOR STUDIES ASSOCIATION.



The purpose of the Association shall be to foster and to promote study, criticism, and research in American humor and comedy in all their varied aspects.



III. 1 The Association shall be a not-for-profit organization whose revenues shall support the aforementioned purposes within the meaning of Section 501-(c)-(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Such sections of the Internal Revenue Code as bear on 501-(c)-(3) corporations, including 501-(c)-(3) (1954), 501 (h), 509 (a), 4942, 4941 (d), 4943 (c), 4944, 4945 (d) or corresponding provisions of any subsequent Federal tax laws shall be presumed to define the limits of activities by the Association.


III. 2 The Association shall be financed by annual membership dues, as well as revenues from the association’s journal and payments from online databases. The amount of the dues shall be determined by the Governing Board.


III. 3 The finances of the organization shall be reported by the Treasurer each year as part of the annual business meeting and made available to the membership as part of minutes. The Executive Director will have access to all relevant accounts and conduct spot checks on all financial transactions in December/January and May/June—reporting findings to the Governing Board. The President, Executive Director, or Treasurer may request an official audit of the organization’s financial situation by an accountant. The Governing Board would then vote, and the result of the audit shall be included in the annual financial report of the Treasurer to the Association.


III. 4 Each year the Treasurer will submit an IRS form 990, as per IRS requirements.


III. 5 The Treasurer shall confirm all spending requests coming from Governing Board members or outside parties with the Executive Director. Any spending requests from the Executive Director will be confirmed with the director with a separate direct email or phone call from the Treasurer to the Executive Director.



IV. 1 Membership is open to all persons.


IV. 2  Active membership in the Association shall begin when the Treasurer receives the first payment of annual dues. Any member whose dues are in arrears one month after sending a second notice to the last recorded email address shall be dropped from membership rolls. Members who have been thus dropped may be reinstated upon payment of one year’s dues in advance. No retroactive dues, payments, or penalties shall be assessed.


IV. 3 Only active members may vote or hold office in the Association or publish in its journal. Every presenter at the Association’s conference or on officially sponsored panels at other conferences must be a current member in order to present, with the exception of jointly-sponsored conferences, where presenters must be members of one of the sponsoring societies. The Governing Board may vote to waive membership and/or conference fees in special cases for presenters.


IV. 4  The Governing Board may designate one person each year as an Honorary Life Member. The Charlie Award may be awarded by the Governing Board as determined by a vote (limit two per year). The Charlie Award bestows Honorary Life Membership. Such persons shall be exempt from paying dues but shall enjoy all the privileges and benefits of active members.



V. 1 OFFICERS The officers shall be a President, Vice-President, Membership/Social Media Coordinator, Secretary/Treasurer, Executive Director, and editors of the publications of the Association. Offices other than the President and Vice President may be combined as best suits the smooth functioning of the organization.


V. 2 The terms of the offices are as follows, along with the possibility of being reappointed:

OFFICE                     TERM               REAPPOINTED?

President                     2 years                No

Vice-President             2 years                No, becomes President

Executive Director      5 years                Yes

Secretary/Treasurer     3 years                Yes

Membership                 3 years                Yes

Editor of Journal                  5 years*              No, moves to Editorial Board

Associate Editor(s)      3-5 years*           Yes, may be promoted

Book Review Editor    3 years*              Yes, may be promoted

* in consultation with the Editor, President, Vice-President, and Executive Director

The terms of office for the editors of Studies in American Humor may be altered by the Governing Board or Editorial Board of the journal if circumstances warrant.


V. 3 Officers may receive a travel stipend of up to $750 per year for travel to a conference for association business, such as chairing a panel, attending the business meeting, etc. Stipend does not accrue year to year and is not guaranteed. Officers shall request the stipend from the Executive Director in writing. Any questions, as well as stipends for the Executive Director, shall be voted upon by the Governing Board.


V. 4 Officers may be removed only for financial or other malfeasance by a majority vote of the Board.


V. 5 The Officers of the Board should make every effort to promote a diversity of views and backgrounds within the organization. Every effort should be made to promote membership and administration for diverse backgrounds (i.e. considerations of gender, race, sexuality, nationality, etc.) and fields (i.e. literature, film, visual arts, television, comics, social media, stand-up, jokes, etc.)




VI. 1. The administration of the Association shall be in the hands of the Governing Board, which shall consist of the Officers of the Association, the past-President of the Association in two years following the term of office, the Editors of the journal of the Association and three members elected by the current board, with one board member being a graduate student, if possible. Past Presidents and Executive Directors may remain ex officio members of the Board, serving in an advisory capacity if they do not seek active membership on the Board.


VI. 2 The Governing Board shall be responsible for the general policy and conduct of the Association.


VI. 3 The President and Executive Director, or their designees, shall be responsible for implementing the policy of the Association and organizing professional programs for scholarly meetings. The Executive Director shall preside over the meetings of the Governing Board by virtue of the office and conduct the day-to-day business of the Association.


VI. 4 The Secretary shall maintain membership rolls and take minutes of meetings of the Governing Board and of the Association for publication in the newsletter or independently to the members of the Board. The Treasurer shall receive, disburse, and record funds and shall be responsible for making an annual financial report in writing to the Board. The Vice-Presidents shall assist the President as required. The Membership/Social Media Coordinator will assist the Executive Director and Treasurer with their duties and will maintain communication with the members via the association website, journal website, and association listserv, as well as any other media developments that may supersede such paltry inventions. The editors of the journal and newsletter will be responsible for conducting those matters with the approval of the Board, in conformity with its broad policies.


VI. 5 The President shall organize at least one annual MLA convention program by virtue of the office. The Vice President will organize 2-3 annual ALA panels. The Executive Director shall organize a quadrennial conference with assistance from other officers. Officers or members may organize panels under the auspices of the AHSA at other conferences by requesting permission from the Executive Director.


VI. 6 The Governing Board shall hold a business meeting once per year. The meeting may be in person, via email, via teleconference, or via videoconference. The Executive Director will seek feedback from the membership and post the results from the meetings yearly, along with a financial report from the Treasurer. Robert’s Rules of Order, current edition, governs the conduct of meetings.


VI. 7 By-laws for the governance of the Association shall be made by the Governing Board. The by-laws may be amended by a majority vote of the membership at a general meeting, which has been announced via the Humor Studies listserv at least one month in advance. The Governing Board may determine a vote in person at an annual meeting or quadrennial conference, or via a secure online voting system, as determined by a vote of the Governing Board. Bylaws will be posted at the end of this Constitution.


VI. 8 Amendments to this Constitution may be proposed by a majority vote of the Governing Board or a majority vote at a general meeting that has been announced via email at least one month in advance of an annual meeting. Such proposed amendments shall be posted for the general membership. A majority of persons voting via secure online system shall determine approval or denial of the proposed amendments.




VII 1 The Association shall sponsor the publication of a scholarly journal and newsletter as official publications of the Association for the benefit of the general membership. A portion of each member’s dues shall be assigned to those publications to pay their costs. Each member shall receive such publications as are issued during the period of their membership.
The newsletter may be published online and be freely available to all. The Association will also maintain a website and email listserv.


VII. 2 The journal shall remain independent from the Association, affiliated by voluntary agreement, which may be terminated with one year’s notice by either party, or immediately by mutual consent, or upon the termination of publication of either entity or termination of the Association.


VII. 3 The Editor of each publication shall make an annual report to the Association. Their files and records shall be open to the Governing Board.


VII. 4 The Editor of the journal may, in consultation and association with the President, Vice-President, and Executive Director, affiliate the journal with a publisher who will produce and distribute it to the membership and other subscribers, print and electronic, on behalf of the Association.


VII. 5 The Association holds the copyright on all publications that it supports. Authors of articles in the journal may reprint their work without fee. Commercial publishers who seek permission to reprint content from the journal shall pay a reprint fee, determined by the Editor, payable to the Association and the author. In 2017, that fee includes $100 to the Association and $50 to the author.



VIII. 1 A Nominating Committee made up of the present elected officers of the Association shall put forth the names of candidates for offices in the Association and additional Board members via the annual meeting of the Governing Board. Any member of the Association may be nominated for the offices. In such cases where more than a single candidate is nominated for an office, a timely election shall be held by secure online system.


VIII. 2 The Governing Board shall be elected by voluntary appearance up to the limit of 15 at the annual meeting of the Governing Board. Officers of the Association and editors of its publications shall be automatic members of the Governing Board. In the event that more than 15 people wish to participate in the governance of the Association, the Board may (a) expand its numbers, or (b) submit all the names of potential board members to vote by the full membership, suspending all business other than reports until the election results are finalized.


VIII. 3 Election results and the names of officers shall be announced in the newsletter.



IX. 1 The Association may be dissolved upon recommendation of the Governing Board and a two-thirds majority vote of the members. A meeting called for the purpose of dissolution must be announced via email and newsletter at least six months in advance.

IX. 2 In the event of dissolution of the Association, all assets left after the liabilities have been met shall be disposed of in a way amenable to Section 501-(c)-(3) and other pertinent sections of the Internal Revenue Code.


This Constitution was adopted by the Association on December 26, 1975, revised on December 29, 1991, and revised and accepted on February 3, 2018. A copy of this Constitution will be posted to the association website at all times.


American Humor Studies Association

Amendment to Constitution of the American Humor Studies Association
“The American Humor Studies Association is organized exclusively for charitable, religious, educational, and/or scientific purposes, including, for such purposes, the making of distributions to organizations that qualify as exempt organizations described under Section 501 (c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, or corresponding section of any future federal tax code.”

Voted on 2/25/2020

Voting yes:
Tracy Wuster, Executive Director
Jeffrey Melton, President
Teresa Prados-Torreira, Vice President
Todd Thompson, Secretary-Treasurer
Samantha Chesters, Graduate Student Representative
Larry Howe, Journal Editor
Jim Caron
Sabrina Fuchs Abrams
David Gillota, Journal Staff

Bylaws; Adopted: April 24, 2019

  1. Establish as an “Unincorporated Nonprofit Association” in the State of Texas.


Because all past legal statuses have lapsed, the AHSA will now be considered an “Unincorporated Nonprofit Association” and be governed by chapter 252 of the Texas Business Organizations Code (BOC). According to this status:


“A “nonprofit association” is defined as an unincorporated organization, other than one created by a trust, consisting of three or more members joined by mutual consent for a common, nonprofit purpose. A form of joint tenancy, tenancy in common, or tenancy by the entirety does not by itself establish a nonprofit association, regardless of whether the co-owners share use of the property for the nonprofit purpose (BOC § 252.001(2)). Under Chapter 252, an unincorporated nonprofit association is treated for certain issues as a separate legal entity as opposed to an aggregate of individuals. …


Section 252.010 of the BOC requires nonprofit associations to maintain correct and complete books and records of account and make those records available to its members. Under this section, the attorney general is given the authority to examine those books and records and investigate the association to determine if a violation of any law of this state has occurred.”


Section 252.10: “Sec. 252.010. BOOKS AND RECORDS. (a) A nonprofit association shall keep correct and complete books and records of account for at least three years after the end of each fiscal year and shall make the books and records available on request to members of the association for inspection and copying.

(b) The attorney general may inspect, examine, and make copies of the books, records, and other documents the attorney general considers necessary and may investigate the association to determine if a violation of any law of this state has occurred.”


We will not file the discretionary filings. Once IRS status is determined, the Executive Director will apply for an exemption from the State of Texas. We will file appropriate documents at that time.


  1. Establishment of a permanent “Constance Rourke Travel Fund.”


This fund will be funded by the AHSA board, donations by individuals, and donations by organizations. All graduate students will be eligible to apply (including those recently graduated but without full-time employment). All graduate students who are accepted to present on a panel sponsored by the AHSA (including, but not limited to, MLA, ALA, and AHSA conferences) will receive support. All awardees for a single conference will receive the same amount of support, with the amount voted upon by the governing board based on current financial state and number of awardees (typically $100-$300). Each awardee must register for the conference, pay all memberships and fees, and present their work to receive the award. Family members of people on the governing board are eligible for awards and will receive the same amount as all other recipients.


  1. Establishment of the “Jack Rosenbalm Award for Scholarship in Humor Studies.”


This award will be run on a two-year cycle (i.e. 2016-2017) and be eligible for book chapters and scholarly articles on American humor studies written by non-tenured scholars (e.g. assistant professors, independent scholars, graduate students). Any article published during a two-year period may be eligible. The Director will publicize the prize and collect articles, which will be submitted to the prize committee blind. The Director will solicit a committee of three scholars to judge the prize. The committee will select one winner and up to two Honorary Mentions. Prize for winner: $100; one-year membership in the AHSA; paid conference registration for 2018 AHSA conference. Prize for honorable mentions: one-year membership in the AHSA. Family members of people on the governing board are eligible for awards; prize committee members should not be related to any of the scholars who have submitted. In that case, the committee member should recuse themselves from the selection process.


  1. Conflict of Interest Policy


The purpose of the conflict of interest policy is to protect this tax-exempt organization’s

(Organization) interest when it is contemplating entering into a transaction or

arrangement that might benefit the private interest of an officer or director of the

Organization or might result in a possible excess benefit transaction. This policy is

intended to supplement but not replace any applicable state and federal laws governing

conflict of interest applicable to nonprofit and charitable organizations.


Whenever a director or officer has a financial or personal interest in any matter coming before the board of directors, the affected person shall a) fully disclose the nature of the interest and b) withdraw from discussion, lobbying, and voting on the matter. Any transaction or vote involving a potential conflict of interest shall be approved only when a majority of disinterested directors determine that it is in the best interest of the corporation to do so. The minutes of meetings at which such votes are taken shall record such disclosure, abstention and rationale for approval.


  1. Policy on Payments for Reprints from Studies in American Humor


AHSA does not charge StAH authors anything to reprint their work in their own publications.

AHSA requires non-profit publishers to pay a nominal fee $50 to StAH authors for reprint rights.

AHSA requires commercial publishers to pay $100 to the author and $50 to AHSA for reprint rights.


 The 1991 version is here.