Humor studies has been a central part of American studies since its inception, as marked by early scholarly contributions from Constance Rourke and Henry Nash Smith, who underscored the importance of humor as a key aspect of studying American character and ideology. The study of humor within American studies is evolving from the nationalist paradigm of earlier scholarship to a post-nationalist paradigm based on connections between local communities and international mass media; on cross-cultural comparisons and contrasts; and on multi-lingual and multi-ethnic comic practices as central to understanding American humor. The study of humor is also increasingly informed by interdisciplinary modes of inquiry that pay close attention to textual construction, historical context, and cultural norms and the dynamics of race, gender, class, region, sexuality, and other valences of positionality.
The Humor Studies Caucus works to support the critical study of all aspects of American humor at the ASA's annual meeting. Our goal is to create a network of scholars interested in the multidisciplinary study of American humor through a large number of approaches: material and visual culture; ethnography, history, and literary analysis; performance and film studies; audience and reception studies, etc.
We are pleased to welcome you to the Humor Studies Caucus of the American Studies Association. We invite and encourage all ASA members who are interested in exploring the place of humor in American studies and promoting the study and teaching of humor within American studies to join.