Superior Mirth: National Humor and the Victorian Ego

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This project traces the wide and varied uses of patriotic (and, at times, jingoistic and xenophobic) humor within the Victorian novel. a culture’s humor, perhaps more than any other cultural markers (food, dress, etc.), provides invaluable insight into that nation’s values and perceptions—not only how they view others, but also how they view themselves. in fact, humor provides such a unique cultural thumbprint as to make most jokes notoriously untranslatable. Victorian humor is certainly not a new topic of critical discussion; neither is English ethno-cultural identity during this era lacking scholarly attention. However, the intersection of these concerns has been ... continued below

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Stober, Katharyn L. May 2012.

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  • Stober, Katharyn L.

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Description

This project traces the wide and varied uses of patriotic (and, at times, jingoistic and xenophobic) humor within the Victorian novel. a culture’s humor, perhaps more than any other cultural markers (food, dress, etc.), provides invaluable insight into that nation’s values and perceptions—not only how they view others, but also how they view themselves. in fact, humor provides such a unique cultural thumbprint as to make most jokes notoriously untranslatable. Victorian humor is certainly not a new topic of critical discussion; neither is English ethno-cultural identity during this era lacking scholarly attention. However, the intersection of these concerns has been seemingly ignored; thus, my research investigates the enmeshed relationship between these two areas of study. Not only do patriotic sentiment and humor frequently overlap, they often form a causational relationship wherein a writer’s rhetorical invocation of shared cultural experiences creates humorous self-awareness while “inside” jokes which reference unique Anglo-specific behaviors or collective memories promote a positive identity with the culture in question. Drawing on and extending the work of James Kincaid’s Dickens and the Rhetoric of Laughter, Harold Nicolson’s “The English Sense of Humor,” and Bergson’s and Freud’s theories of humor as a social construct, I question how this reciprocated relationship of English ethnic identity and humor functions within Victorian novels by examining the various ways in which nineteenth-century authors used humor to encourage affirmative patriotic sentiment within their readers.

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  • May 2012

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  • Nov. 6, 2012, 3:03 p.m.

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  • Nov. 16, 2016, 12:56 p.m.

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Stober, Katharyn L. Superior Mirth: National Humor and the Victorian Ego, dissertation, May 2012; Denton, Texas. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc115168/: accessed February 28, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; .