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 Humor in America Project

  Dr. Tracy Wuster, Director

Dr. Martin Kevorkian, Associate Director

The study of humor has long been a key aspect of the study of American literature and American Studies.  From Benjamin Franklin through Mark Twain to Richard Pryor, humor has been a central means of expressing American identity and forming American culture.  Humor studies as a field is a small but vibrant community of scholars. The goal of Humor in America Project is to promote the academic study of American humor both at the University of Texas and in the larger scholarly community.  The project is sponsored by the Department of English and associated with the American Humor Studies Association.

Our goal is to promote the study of humor through the following areas:


Our speaker for the 2015-2016 school year is Dr. Michael Branch, a scholar who focuses on environmental literature.  He is also a humorist who writes in a variety of venues.  Dr. Branch will speak on March 3, 2016 as part of the Texas Institute for Literary and Textual Studies (TILTS) for 2015-16, which will focus on environmental humanities.  The Humor in American Project and TILTS are co-sponsoring the talk, with support from the Department of English.

*classesAmerican Humor–coming Summer 2016

Humor has always been a key expression of the American experience and of American literature. In this course, we will examine theories of humor and apply them to a variety of American literature—from the sketches of Benjamin Franklin and Sut Lovingood to the stories of Mark Twain and Charles Chesnutt, from the films of Charlie Chaplin and Mabel Normand through to the fiction of Kurt Vonnegut and Maxine Hong Kingston and the stand-up comedy of Richard Pryor and Steve Martin.   We will examine humor in a variety of genres—the sketch, the short story, non-fiction, the novel, film, stand-up, comics, and television—and by humorists both well known and obscure. We will explore the ways in which humor functions within communities, both those in the past and those of the present, to include or exclude based on race, ethnicity, gender, class, religion, region, political affiliation, etc. We will examine the ways in which humor has both reflected American lives and changed American culture, both positively and negatively.



Our first workshop was be a half-day gathering on January 8th, 2016.  We had an exciting discussion about the future(s) of humor studies, an outing for lunch, and a tour of the HRC. Keep an eye out for future developments growing out of this workshop.


*working with affiliated societies

*book series: exciting news coming soon

*the “Humor in America” website