Schedule for “Works in Progress Conference”–Fridays in July

American Humor Studies Association

Works-in-Progress Conference

July 9th   Black Comedy Matters                                                 1:00pm-3:30pm Eastern

July 16th New Books-in-Progress                                           12:00pm-5:15pm Eastern

July 23rd First Books-in-Progress                                           12:00am-5:15pm Eastern

July 30th American Literature Association Reboot                1:00pm-4:45pm Eastern

All meetings will be held at this link:

Please join us for any or all of these days.  You do not need to be a member of the AHSA to participate, but it would be a lot cooler if you were.

Black Comedy Matters

July 9

Zoom Link:

Recording of meeting:

Discussion               1:00pm-3:30pm Eastern Time

Moderator: Tracy Wuster

Keyana Parks                                                                       Kenyon College

Black Women’s Comedy and the Refusal to Accommodate

Benjamin B. Schwartz                                                       Vanderbilt University

“Making Such Spaces…Where None Previously Existed”: Interstitial Wit and Black Women’s Mobility in Fran Ross’ Oreo

Rebecca Starr Nisetich                                                      University of Southern Maine

Satirizing Segregation in the era of Black Lives Matter

Diego A. Millan                                                                   Washington and Lee University

Joking at the Limits of Protest in Chester Himes’s If He Hollers, Let Him Go

Respondents: Darryl Dickson-Carr and Larry Howe 

Call for Papers: 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

New Books-in-Progress

July 16

Zoom Link:

Discussion #1                                  12:00pm-1:45pm Eastern. Recording of Event

Moderator: Michael Dalebout

Rachel Trousdale                                                                Framingham State University

The Joking Voice: Humor and Empathy in Twentieth-Century American Poetry

Zsofia Anna Toth                                                                University of Szeged

Mae West: a Monument, a Milestone and a Momentum in the History of American Humor

Steven S. Kapica                                                                  Keuka College

Singing While Talking: The Rhetorical Genius of George Carlin

Kathy A. Elrick                                                                    Wayne State University

Critique of Journalistic Rhetoric: A Legacy of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart


Note: due to operator failure, the first presentation was not recorded. Very sorry.


Discussion #2                                  2:00pm-3:45pm Eastern Recording of Event

Moderator: Sam Chesters

David Gillota                                                                        University of Wisconsin-Platteville

Dead Funny: The Humor of American Horror

Joshua L. Moss                                                                    California State University, Chico

Splatstick: Humor, Horror, and the Rise of Gag Cinema

Philip Scepanski                                                                 Marist College

Time is Everything: Screen Comedy and Temporality



Books-in-Progress: Conversation on Comedy Histories        4:00-5:15pm Eastern

Recording of event

Vulture writer and Good One: A Podcast About Jokes host, Jesse David Fox, and stand-up comedian turned academic, Beck Krefting, geek out about their new books-in-progress focused on stand-up comedy histories—posing questions about origins, bias, and booms, among other historical puzzles.  


First Books-in-Progress Day

Friday July 23

Zoom Link:

Discussion #1                          11:00am-1:00pm Eastern. (Recording of event)

Discussion Leader: Michael Dalebout

Megan Boyd                                                                           University of Wisconsin-Madison

Legitimizing Laughter: Class, Gender and the Rise of Feature Comedy

Grace Kessler Overbeke                                                          Columbia College Chicago

The First Lady of Laughs: Jean Carroll and the Story of How Stand-Up Found Its Feet

Eleanor Russell                                                                      Northwestern University

Everything, and This: Stand-Up Comedy and the Avant-Garde

Jody Berman                                                                          DePaul University

Laughing Til it Hurts: Racism, Humor and the Burden of Representation

Sam Chesters                                                                          Houston Community College

Chasing Utopia: Irony, Sincerity, and the Metamodernist Project

Discussion #2                          1:30pm-3:30pm Eastern. (Recording of event)

Discussion Leader: J Finley

Rod K. Taylor                                                                 California University of Pennsylvania

Writing Back: African American Authors and the Remembered Plantation, 1865-1900

Lisa Beringer                                                                 Ivy Tech Community College

The Invisible Man Paradox

Stephanie Brown                                                           West Chester University of Pennsylvania

Crowd Work: Stand-Up Comedy and the Gendered Labor of Authenticity

Grace Jung                                                                      University of California, Los Angeles

Crying Laughing: Queerness, Masculinity & Nationalism in South Korean Variety TV

Raúl Pérez                                                                           University of La Verne

The Souls of White Jokes

Roundtable: From Dissertation to Book                              4:00pm-5:15pm Eastern

Recording of event

This is part of the M. Thomas Inge First Book Workshops, which convenes with scholars, editors, and experts to discuss best practices and strategies for successfully transitioning the dissertation into a monograph for broad audiences. Anyone is welcome to join us for this conversation.

American Literature Association Reboot

Friday, July 30, 2021

Zoom Link:

Scholars from two panels planning to present at ALA in 2020 will present their work here.

Panel: ‘Take my husband…please’: Humor and the Home. (Recording of Event)

1:00pm-2:45pm Eastern

Moderator: Teresa Prados-Torreira

David E. Sloane                                                                            University of New Haven

“The Female Domestic Comedians of the Old Northeast”

Rick Cousins                                                                                 Trent University

“Headless of the Household: 1950s Animated Shorts Depicting the American Housewife from the Neck Down”

Jeffrey Melton                                                                                University of Alabama

“‘As good as it is ever going to get’: Erma Bombeck and the Tragedy of Domestic Humor” 


Panel:  ‘What are we laughing at?’: Contrarian Humor, Satire and Popular Culture (Recording of event)

3:00pm-4:45pm Eastern

Moderator: Judith Yaross Lee

Tajanae L. Barnes                                                                  University of Nevada, Las Vegas

“‘Is my life a joke to you?’: Humor, Language, and Black Women’s Agency”

James E. Caron                                                                      University Hawai‘i at Mānoa

Sci-Fi Black Mirror(s) and the Idea of Degenerative Satire”

Bruce Michelson                                                           University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

“Policing American Comic Outbreaks, 2010-2020” 

Seth Streichler                                                                       Stanford University

 “American Comedy and Humor for International Graduate Students: Why Allusions Matter”

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