Comic Outbreaks and Scholastic Discontents

Bruce Michelson

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Responding to a set of six articles (developed from presentations at the 2017 Quadrennial Conference on the State of Mark Twain Studies), this article considers (1) the limitations of Philip Traum's pronouncements on the power of laughter, (2) comic discourse as moments of insurrection against habits and confinements of reason and logic, (3) our stubborn and poorly-grounded collective faith in the efficacy of satire, (4) the cumbersome history and connotations of basic vocabulary in the discussion of the comic, (5) the importance of context and contingency, and their loss or violation as comic utterance persists and migrates in cyberspace, (6) obliviousness to such matters in humor research, and (7) the importance of satiric insurrection in the cultural record, despite dubious impact in the historical moment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)205-215
Number of pages11
JournalStudies in American Humor
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2018


  • American culture
  • Comedy
  • Humor
  • Laughter
  • Mark Twain
  • Satire
  • Wit

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Visual Arts and Performing Arts
  • History
  • Psychology (miscellaneous)
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Literature and Literary Theory


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