MLA 2022 CFP: The Power of Laughter: Discursive Communities and the Deconstruction of Social Hierarchies

In her 2014 text, All Joking Aside, Rebecca Krefting argued that “Jokesters unmask inequality by identifying the legal arrangements and cultural attitudes and beliefs contributing to their subordinated status—joking about it, challenging that which has become normalized and compulsory, and offering new solutions and strategies” (2). Humor has long been a tool for upsetting the status quo, for questioning the social institutions that exalt some, while leaving so many others behind. But does this comedic approach succeed in effecting change? What are the tangible results of challenging the existing situation? This panel explores the way that subjugated people have sought to demonstrate the inequality that restricts them, simultaneously asserting their presence and contributing to the vital representation that expresses overlooked perspectives. We are interested in presentations that explore distinct and/or intersecting discursive communities and that deconstruct the power dynamics that are being reified or subverted. Presentations engaging multi-ethnic, multi-racial, and multilingual humor are especially welcome. Please send 250 word abstract and a brief bio to Sam Chesters (Samantha.chesters@gmail.com) or Sabrina Fuchs Abrams (Sabrina.FuchsAbrams@esc.edu) by March 15th, 2021.

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