The Humor Studies Caucus of the American Studies Association (ASA)
seeks session and paper proposals for the 2010 ASA meeting, held November 18-21 in San Antonio, Texas. Proposals should explore historical, theoretical, and/or methodological issues in American humor. They should seek to address the 2010 meeting theme, “Crisis, Chains, and Change: American Studies for the 21st Century”
To paraphrase the 2010 call for proposals, the ASA is particularly interested in projects that engage broadly with the ways ordinary people create power. In inviting us to consider changes in response to multiple global crises (war, capital, economies, hunger, climate change), the ASA encourages us to analyze “topics central to American Studies — indigeneity, gender, race, sexuality, laws and status, dispossession, documentation, wage and custom, boom and bust, primitive accumulation, love for and loathing of risk, and stretching or shrinking states, glaciers, empires, horizons.” . The meeting theme and location present an opportunity to explore immigration, trans-border activism, and the convergences and divergences of US and Mexican culture. While proposals may take the traditional form of scholarly papers, the ASA welcomes the use alternative formats such as roundtables, workshops, and site visits.
General inquiries and proposals can be sent to the Humor Studies Caucus email: ASAhumor@gmail.com. The deadline for proposals is January 15, 2010, but earlier submissions may be given more consideration.
Additionally, the Humor Studies Caucus is seeking proposals for three specific panel topics:
1) Twentieth-Century Visual Humor
For this panel on Twentieth-Century Visual Humor, we’re looking for paper proposals addressing any aspect of humor in American or cross-cultural visual culture, including but not limited to: film, TV, digital media, painting, photography, children's books, political cartoons, comics, graphic novels, and caricature.
Please submit session proposals by January 15, 2010 to Philip Nel firstname.lastname@example.org and Juniper Ellis email@example.com, of the Humor Studies Caucus.
2) Humor as Critical Pedogogy: Where Activism and Teaching Combine (Roundtable)
As higher education becomes increasingly corporatized, with professors being forced to act as alienated labor and students to act as wary consumers, it is more and more difficult to connect with the progressive politics many of us see as the most important aspect of a higher education. This roundtable will discuss the role of humor as a potentially transformative social force. Specifically, we will discuss the ways in which using humor in the classroom, either as a performative activity for professors and students or as a topic of conversation, can help institute a discussion of emancipatory politics. As news and entertainment media are controlled heavily by major media congolomerates, and as clandestine censorship boards like the MPAA and RIAA retain as much control over the media as government or citizen institutions, these techniques become even more essential. More importantly, perhaps, it mirrors trends in entertainment itself, as Peabody Awards for Excellence in Journalism have been awarded to cultural landmarks like The Daily Show and South Park in recent years, documentary filmmakers like Michael Moore have broken into the mainstream, and performance groups like The Yes Men have directly intervened in corporate and news discourse. Through a discussion of classroom techniques and specific media examples through which humor can be used to obliquely connect students to politics, this roundtable will attempt to explain how and why humor is such an important part of the establishment of what Paolo Friere called a "critical pedagogy."
This will be a roundtable with 4-5 speakers each giving a 5-10 minute talk followed by discussion based on audience participation. Please send a description of a proposed topic to Ted Gournelos at firstname.lastname@example.org by January 15, 2010.
3. Reading Stand-Up Comedy: Methodology and Medium
This panel will be a roundtable/talk format. Stand-up comedy has been one of the main venues of cultural expression for at least half a century—yet relatively little scholarly work has been undertaken on stand-up and even less work has discussed theoretical and methodological challenges in studying stand-up as a cultural form.
The goal of this panel is to present relatively short (10-12 minute) talks on a single stand-up performer (or comedy troupe) as a methodological and/or theoretical exploration of the challenges, approaches, and rewards of scholarship on stand-up comedy. The goal is to have a range of performers across time, performance style, medium (live performance, recorded or written records, film and television, etc.), and disciplinary approach (ethnography, performance studies, textual analysis, historical analysis, etc.). Part of the presentation should be a sample of performance as an illustration of approach.
Proposals are due to Tracy Wuster at: email@example.com by January 15, 2010. Please contact Tracy with questions or for clarification.
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