CFP: Black Comedy Matters — a special issue of Studies in American Humor

Black Comedy Matters  — a special issue of Studies in American Humor

The American Humor Studies Association has expressed its solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement, and Studies in American Humor manifests that commitment with a special issue that focuses on African American humor and the challenges of humor in the face of systemic injustice.  

The term “black comedy” first became current as a translation of André Breton’s 1940  Anthologie de l’Humour Noir to characterize the philosophy and practice of humor that explores risqué subjects with a tone of dark irony. Subsequently, the category has at times created some confusion with the humor of African American culture. Although Breton and later critics have  associated  “black comedy” with avant-garde modernist aesthetics, the editorial team of Studies in American Humor along with guest co-editor Darryl Dickson-Carr contend that, in our current era, the adjective “black” applies alternatively to a wide range of comic traditions and practices of African American culture. The reclaiming of the adjective “black” as a cultural sign by African American theorists problematizes the broader application of the term in modernist aesthetics, for which a number of other adjectives—dark humor, gallows humor, and sick humor—have functioned equally well. So in this spirit, we seek to redefine the phrase black comedy to align with the reclaiming of blackness as a vigorous, affirmative move. 

We are now accepting essays that focus on African American humor and its explorations of the experience of race in the United States, emphasizing the ways in which Black comedy matters.  While we encourage critical investigations from any period and in a wide range of forms from literary and popular culture–in print, performance, cinema, or new media–we are particularly interested in humor that connects to the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement.  

The final deadline for submission is October 1, 2021, and the scheduled release date of the issue is October 2022. Please submit manuscripts in the range of 5000 to 8000 words through Editorial Manager, our submission portal, The portal includes instructions for formatting and submission, and any submission for this issue should be designated as a “special issue essay.” Any further questions can be forwarded to the editorial team at

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