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Title:"They'll Not Love You if You're Witty": The Literary Humor of American Women Before 1900
Author(s):Cole, Karen Lee
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Watts, Emily S.
Department / Program:English
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Women's Studies
Abstract:This study redefines and expands the boundaries of American literary humor to encompass the many female writers who both contributed to and were shaped by the genre. Examining the most widely published, influential, and financially successful humorists of the nineteenth century, it identifies a female countertradition which emerged to challenge assumptions about women's roles as passive and humorless angels in the house as well as to expose the male bias of definitions of the national character and its humor. It traces the tradition from precursors such as Anne Bradstreet, Sarah Kemble Knight, and Judith Sargent Murray to the literary humorists Frances Whitcher, Marietta Holley, and Kate Sanborn. Their lives and careers reveal the injunctions against women's expression of humor just as they reflect the different "angle of vision" which their humor embodies. Theirs is the comic voice of the matriarch--sly, knowing, experienced, practical, sometimes moralistic but, above all, forgiving. The study shows how female humorists incorporated the conventions of and profited from a tradition which had thrived on opposition to feminization. These humorists, wise and self aware, made way for the more radical feminist critique of the twentieth century.
Issue Date:1998
Description:236 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1998.
Other Identifier(s):(MiAaPQ)AAI9904420
Date Available in IDEALS:2015-09-25
Date Deposited:1998

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