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Pedagogy of the Amused: An Exploration of Writing Education for a Critical Sense of Humor
AuthorKingery, Luke E
AdvisorChaput, Catherine J.
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While scholars have been largely optimistic about the role of humor as a critical public pedagogy that generates emancipatory spaces from which students can recognize social injustice and re-envision a more equitable society, I argue that the distance humor generates can be used to emancipate people from empathic responses that would otherwise motivate action. I offer three cases that serve as examples of how critical humor is a neutral rhetoric that can serve nefarious ends as easily as critical: stand-up comedy that makes fun of activists, trolls who use disparaging humor to bolster and protect their privileged identities, and conspiracy theorist news outlets that use satirical elements to generate credibility. Finally, I offer an argument for bringing the study of the sense of humor into the composition classroom as a way of braiding together the prominent pedagogical approaches to composition of expressivism, social constructivism, critical theory, and posthumanism.