CFP _Studies in American Humor_, special issue on Native American Humor

Larry Howe's picture
Call for Papers
March 1, 2019
Illinois, United States
Subject Fields: 
American History / Studies, Canadian History / Studies, Literature, Native American History / Studies, Theatre & Performance History / Studies

CFP Studies in American Humor– Special Issue on Native American Humor


In Custer Died for Your Sins, Vine Deloria stated that, “One of the best ways to understand a people is to know what makes them laugh. Laughter encompasses the limits of the soul. In humor life is redefined and accepted. Irony and satire provide much keener insights into a group’s collective psyche and values than do years of research.” In a North American context, the notion of cultural exchange and understanding through humor appears somewhat unilateral in that settler forms of humor often erase indigenous existence and refuse native sovereignty. At the same time, indigenous forms of humor often expose and critique the oppressive, colonialist logic of this humor as acts of sovereignty reclaiming power over (self-)representations. 


Thus, rather than viewing humor as mere entertainment, this special issue seeks to examine the complex ways in which humor critiques, interacts with, and produces power; functions as a means of oppression or subversion; destabilizes a dominant narrative or gives rise to a counter-narrative; or behaves differently when performed in a sacred or profane text. Some of the questions to consider are: What is the purpose and function of humor and laughter? How is Native American humor culturally specific? How does Native American  humor inform or perform identity? How is Native American humor communicated and what is lost in translation? How can humor be oppressive or subversive? By what means is humor produced? What different effects might different forms (visual, verbal, oral, written, musical etc.) of humor produce?


To open up possibilities for interdisciplinary discussion, the editors welcome research from a variety of fields, including but not limited to literature, religion, philosophy, law, political science, anthropology, sociology, linguistics, history, archeology, museology, gender/queer studies, popular culture, art and media studies. Please note that our journal’s charge is the study of humor, so any disciplinary investigation must also include an emphasis on humor.  We are also open to proposals for original creative works of Native American humor.


We invite proposals that address Native American humor through one or more of these topics: 


* Language/rhetoric of humor                                   * Satire, sarcasm, and irony 

* Humor as weapon, critique, and/or healing            * Tricksters 

* Formal representations:                                          * Performance: stand-up; 

        visual art; literature; theater; music                            sketch comedy

* Popular culture: cartoons; new media                    * Humor in/and politics 

* Humor in/and society and/or social movements    * Tragedy and trauma; the tragicomic  

* Humor and sexuality                                              * Laughter v. the lack of humor 

* Hollywood misrepresentations and   

           other cultural stereotypes 


Please submit proposals (500-1000 words) to no later than March 1, 2019.  Those whose proposals are selected will submit essays (6000-8000 words) by September 1, 2019.  Please direct any questions to Marianne Kongerslev, guest co-editor ( or Larry Howe, co-editor (

Contact Info: 

Larry Howe,

Marianne Kongerslev,

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