Where I am, and Where I Want to Go…

Two of my favorite things in life are literature and humor.  I have often gravitated towards novels that not only inform and foster critical thinking, but also laughter.   I, for one, would be lost without the ability to read, and to laugh.  If humor can bridgekafka cultural gaps and ease tension, certainly it can be a tool for learning.   This is not to say that I plan to establish a strict curriculum of comical novels, but rather works that experiment with style, employ sarcasm, push boundaries, and take risks.

I could just as easily read Dostoevsky and be happy as a clam, but I think some much-needed humor to help lighten the trials and tribulations of high school life could engage young readers and hopefully get them excited about reading.  I would like to explore the power of humor and sarcasm and how it allows for empathy and understanding in a way that perhaps other novels are unable to attain.  This is certainly not to dismiss the classics, and the scores of contemporary authors that are making strides in our way of thinking, but I would like to incorporate a solid repertoire of humorous novels that place thought-provoking and relevant topics in a new light for young readers to tackle.

Literature is so vast and contains a myriad of pathways towards self-discovery and growth, and young adults should be exposed to novels that not only resonate and strike a chord with their own lives, but also encourage reflection and challenge misconceptions.  Sherman Alexie’s The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian is one novel that uses humor to explore cultural diversity, racial segregation, and wealth inequality through a medium that adolescents can relate to.

cartoon1

I want to dispel the notion that humorous novels are frivolous texts that should be kept in the confines of one’s home and not in the hallways of school.  Alexie’s novel also crosses into a topic I also would like to address as banned books are often dismissed as a “disgrace,” and devoid of any real substance or quality.  The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian was banned from some schools and it would be interesting to unravel the mindset behind banning books and how this impacts young readers.

Alexie’s brilliant use of wit and sarcasm allow for a whole new way of thinking surrounding stereotypes and how we perceive others.  I plan to gather sources and ideas on how to use these rich and witty novels to approach some of the more challenging aspects of life.

A few leads…

https://www.worldliteraturetoday.org/humor-my-green-card-conversation-sherman-alexie-joshua-b-nelson

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-humor-code/201109/the-importance-humor-research

https://kidlit.com/2010/10/01/sarcastic-voice/

http://ncac.org/issue/books

 

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5 thoughts on “Where I am, and Where I Want to Go…”

  1. Hello Jules,
    This is just awesome! I love this topic and it is definitely overlooked in the world of literature. When you think of reading literature in school, you never really think of humor being involved that much. Bringing humor into the classroom can be challenging, but very rewarding at the same time (if you do it right). Many teachers stay away from using humor and literature together because it can cause confusion from what is serious and what is meant to be humorous. I hope this project can be a great research project for you and I cannot wait to read more about what you find and how you can incorporate humor into literature!
    Natalie

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  2. Hi Jules,

    You have a really creative topic! Like Natalie said, I think the challenge about focusing on humor in literature is that some students may not understand it right away. I remember reading Candide in high school, and I didn’t understand that it was a satire until our teacher told us. Then it made much more sense! It would also be cool to examine humor and sarcasm through political comics. Another one of my high school English teachers did that with us. I’m looking forward to reading your next blog post!

    -Caila

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  3. Hi Jules!

    Like Natalie and Caila both said, this is a really interesting topic of choice! It is really overlooked in schools but adding humor to the curriculum has a potential to add so much interest. If students enjoy what they are reading, they are more likely to be willing to put in the effort to get something out of it instead of just skimming through looking for the strictly relevant information. I am really looking forward to seeing where you go with this inquiry topic and how it all pans out!

    -Lindsey

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  4. Humor is a great topic. I am reminded of Stuart Stotts idea in his book “Beyond Nice, 149 Ideas to Nurture Kindness in Young Children” to spend some time laughing together. You start out fake laughing together and then that fake laughter will eventually turn into real laughter. I made a work sheet with how to fake laugh spelled out: “ha ha ha ha, ho ho ho ho ho, he he he he he, rah ha ha ha ha HO HO HO HO HO, Eh EH eh eh eh eh.” Get the point. And then I had the kids draw how they felt. While I introduced this activity at the wrong time with my kids, I thought you might like to use this as an ice breaker when you start a unit on humor.

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  5. I am very drawn to this focus on literature that explores the intersections of humor and race. I think there is much to be gained at this intersection. In addition to Alexie’s novel, I’ve heard much talk also about Yang’s graphic novel American Born Chinese and how it also uses humor and explicit use of stereotype to explore race.

    http://international.ucla.edu/institute/article/63761

    I look forward to seeing the texts you select and analyze for blog #3.

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