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"Dr. Regina Faden" <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Mon, 7 Jan 2008 11:46:47 -0600
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Dear List Members,

I am planning to send in a proposal to the ALA for the Conference in May - "
'For Fools Rush in Where Angles Fear to Tread': Humor on the Cutting Edge"
and would like to know if anyone else would like to help form a panel and/or
serve as a moderator.  The conference is looking for innovative formats,
including discussion groups and larger panels with briefer papers rather
than the standard 3 presenters for 20 minutes with time for discussion.  I
am open to suggestions and those who would like to participate.  Although
Twain is quoted in the CFP I would like to make sure he is represented in
the sessions.

Please email me directly if you would like to participate.  Thank you.

Following is the CFP:

Call for Papers:  American Literature Association Conference in San
Francisco, May 22-25, 2008.

" 'For Fools rush in where Angels fear to tread':  Humor on the Cutting

Humor often walks a fine line between moral imperative and poor taste.  How
soon after a tragic or shocking event is it permissible to make a pointed
joke, the kind of joke that makes us laugh and wince at the same time?  How
does a humorist or stand-up comic negotiate this knife-edge, using humor to
force us to see the often hidden meanings behind an event, to force us to
face realities that we'd rather ignore?  This intrepid moral force is what
Mark Twain argued elevated humor above the "mere" joke.  Humor, he said in
his Autobiography, "must not professedly teach and it must not professedly
preach, but it must do both if it would live forever."   Topical yet
timeless, this sort of humor is, in Pope's words, "never shock'd and never
turn'd aside":  it fearlessly tackles the issues, prejudices, horrors and
embarrassments of its day, daring to use humor to, as Toni Morrison says,
speak the "unspeakable" and connect it to the very nature of our humanity.

Holding up a mirror to reveal a society's flaws and foibles is a risky
business, and this panel seeks to explore the work of American comics or
humorists (from our past or our present) that thrives on this edge, poking
relentless fun at our silence about our most devastating and unspeakable
moments, thus giving them voice.  Who are our edgiest humorists?  How do
they force us to face ourselves, no matter how much we struggle, making us
laugh and squirm uncomfortably at the same time?

In comedy, timing is everything, and presentations should be kept strictly
to 20 minutes.  If your presentation requires audiovisual equipment, please
include that information with your proposal.  Inquiries are welcome.
Abstracts of about 250 words or complete papers should be sent to Sharon
McCoy at [log in to unmask] by January 25, 2008 for consideration.

Regina Faden, Ph.D.
Executive Director
Mark Twain Boyhood Home & Museum
Hannibal, MO 63401