Saturday, March 24, 2007

Paul Lewis

Paul Lewis, a Professor of English at Boston College, is the author of Cracking Up: American Humor in a Time of Conflict and other books and essays.

I asked him what he has been reading. His reply:
In the middle of an intense teaching semester, I'm devoting most of the time I have for reading to books I'm teaching and essays my students are writing. The former includes works of antebellum fiction and nonfiction for a graduate seminar and works on humor theory and research for an undergraduate elective. Beyond this, since the publication of Cracking Up last fall, I've been working on contemporary satire and humor gaffes, publishing op-ed pieces that can be downloaded at my Web site.

Most recently I've been reading and thinking about the new Fox News satire program ("The 1/2 Hour News Hour") and a few other stories including:
—Craig Ferguson's decision not to ridicule Britney Spears on the CBS "Late, Late Show";
—Ann Coulter's use of the word "faggot" to mock John Edwards at the Conservative Political Action Conference;
—Roger Ailes' playful confusion of Barak Obama's name with Osama bin Laden's at the Radio-Television News Directors Association and Foundation Awards ceremony;
—And the case of Joseph Frederick, a Juneau, Alaska high school student who was punished in 2002 for refusing to take down a banner he designed that read "Bong Hits 4 Jesus." Though Ferguson has testified that he was only trying "to be meaningless and funny, in order to get on television” during an Olympics parade event, his case has now reached the Supreme Court where the free-speech issues associated with it appear to be no laughing matter.
Visit Paul Lewis's website.

Read the Page 69 Test: Cracking Up.

--Marshal Zeringue