Critical studies attempting to define and dissect American humor have been published steadily for nearly one hundred years. However, until w, key documents from that history have never been brought together in a single volume for students and scholars. What's So Funny? Humor in American Culture, a collection of 15 essays, examines the meaning of humor and attempts to pinpoint its impact on American culture and society, while providing a historical overview of its progres-sion. Essays from Nancy Walker and Zita Dresner, Joseph Boskin and Joseph Dorinson, William Keough, Roy Blount, Jr., and others trace the development of American humor from the colonial period to the present, focusing on its relationship with ethnicity, gender, violence, and geography. An excellent reader for courses in American studies and American social and cultural history, What's So Funny? explores the traits of the American experience that have given rise to its humor.
Nancy A. Walker is professor of English at Vanderbilt University.