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Dillard’s sense of humor

March 6, 2009

I know it’s there, though perhaps as with a good comedian, it is hard to describe the joke and still have it be funny. In any event, I mentioned that one characteristic of Dillard’s style and vision is a lightness of touch. I would be curious to hear more from you in your blogs and in discussion for your response, whether you see or even ‘get’ her sense of humor, such as it is.

In the meantime, I wanted to share a description of a panel for the next MLA conference that focuses on humor and environmental writing. Perhaps we could develop a joint proposal. Just to let you know that scholars are actually out there, thinking about these things. 

Laughter and the Environment
MLA panel arranged by the Association for the Study of Literature and Environment

Proposals are invited for presentations that explore the rhetoric of humor and comedy in literary responses to the environment. What does “green humor” look like in particular literary texts (including films or other media), whether in the work of classic nature writers like Henry David Thoreau and Edward Abbey or in the work of less well-known authors? Are human inter-relationships with nonhuman animals ever a
laughing matter? Is there a place for laughter when it comes to such un-funny topics such as biodiversity decline, habitat loss, pollution, and global climate change? Is humor an effective rhetorical strategy when it comes to raising public awareness about environmental problems, or does it only diminish the urgency of such problems? Paper topics may address these or other questions related to humor and the environment.

Submit 300-word abstracts by March 22, 2009 to Scott Knickerbocker at Questions are welcome.

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