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Studies in American Humor, Special Issue: Mark Twain, Satire, and the “Assault of Laughter”

The editorial team of Studies in American Humor is happy to announce publication of a special issue:   Mark Twain, Satire, and “The Assault of Laughter.”

If you attended the Elmira conference in 2017, you may have heard earlier versions of these critical considerations.  We’re delighted to have the opportunity to present this work in one volume.

Before listing the tantalizing titles of the essays in the Table of Contents (below), we also want to call attention to a new feature that will begin in the next issue (5.1 Spring 2019) called “On Second Thought.”  This is our attempt to foster a dialogue between our contributors and our equally insightful readers, and we’ll be printing responses to any and all of the work contained in the special issue from readers like you.  We expect this to get traction with the Mark Twain special issue and be a regular feature going forward.  We know that you’re a group with a lot to say, so let’s hear it.


  1. Comic Assaults and Somersaults: An Introduction (pp. 137-143)

Judith Yaross Lee

  1. WTF Is Laughter to Mark Twain? (pp. 144-151)

Jennifer A. Hughes

  1. When the Candle Goes Out: The Complexity of Simple Jokes and the Limits of Satire (pp. 152-159)

Jeffrey Melton

  1. “Scribbling to excite the laughter of God’s creatures”: Some Thoughts on “Mere” Humor, Entertainment, and Pleasure (pp. 160-170)

Tracy Wuster

  1. Mark Twain’s “Assault of Laughter” and the Limits of Political Humor (pp. 171-182)

Holger Kersten

  1. Is Satire Compatible with Free Speech? (pp. 183-191)

Gregg Camfield

  1. The Pernicious Use of “Humorist” to Describe Mark Twain (and Other Comic Writers) (pp. 192-204)

James E. Caron

  1. Comic Outbreaks and Scholastic Discontents: a Response (pp. 205-215)

Bruce Michelson


–Larry Howe (editor), Jim Caron (senior assoc. editor), David Gillota (associate editor), Sabrina Fuchs Abrams (book review editor)


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