Southern Frontier Humor
Publication Year: 2013
Since its inception in the early 1830s, southern frontier humor (also known as the humor of the Old Southwest) has had enduring appeal. The onset of the new millennium precipitated an impressive rejuvenation of scholarly interest. Beyond Southern Frontier Humor: Prospects and Possibilities represents the next step in this revival, providing a series of essays with fresh perspectives and contexts.First the book shows the importance of Henry Junius Nott, a writer virtually unknown and forgotten who mined many of the principal subjects, themes, tropes, and character types associated with southern frontier humor, followed by an essay addressing how this humor genre and its ideological impact helped to stimulate a national cultural revolution. Several essays focus on the genre's legacy to the post-Civil War era, exploring intersections between southern frontier humor and southern local color writers--Joel Chandler Harris, Charles W. Chesnutt, and Sherwood Bonner. Mark Twain's African American dialect piece "A True Story," though employing some of the conventions of southern frontier humor, is reexamined as a transitional text, showing his shift to broader concerns, particularly in race portraiture. Essays also examine the evolution of the trickster from the Jack Tales to Hooper's Simon Suggs to similar mountebanks in novels of John Kennedy Toole, Mark Childress, and Clyde Edgerton and transnational contexts, the latter exploring parallels between southern frontier humor and the Jamaican Anansi tales. Finally, the genre is situated contextually, using contemporary critical discourses, which are applied to G. W. Harris's Sut Lovingood and to various frontier hunting stories.
Published by: University Press of Mississippi
SincE its incEPtion in tHE Earl 1830s, tHE HuMor of tHE Old South or Old Southwest has attracted the curiosity of read-ers, and since the 1930s, the investigative and critical efforts of scholars as well. In the nearly one hundred eighty years since the first southern frontier sketches began appearing in William Trotter Porter’s New York Spirit of the Times, the most significant venue for the genre, and in other ...
SoutHErn frontiEr HuMor, HicH EMErgEd in tHE 1830s primarily in the lower South and the then Southwest, enjoyed popu-larity from its inception through the period of the Civil War, though its influence on later American writers and forms of popular culture would continue after that time and has been ongoing ever since. According to intellectual historian Michael O’Brien, the genre “was mostly sensitive ...
Henry Junius Nott and the Roots of Southern Frontier Humor
WHEn onE tHins of tHE analoguEs and antEcEdEnts of antebellum southern humor, the usual candidates are: Ebenezer Cook’s comical satire, The Sot-weed Factor; or a Voyage to Maryland (1708), William Byrd II’s Dividing Line histories, Dr. Alexander Hamilton’s mid-eighteenth-century satire, “The History of the Tuesday Club,” Rudolph Raspe’s Baron Munchausen’s Narrative of His Marvelous ...
Hysterical Power: Frontier Humor and Genres of Cultural Conquest
We consider a feller a flunk and a sneak if he don’t take an eye-opener in the morning and an antifigmatic about nine o’clock. . . . If he can’t hunt, perhaps he can fight; and if he can’t fight perhaps he can scream; and if he can’t scream, perhaps he can grin pretty severe; and if he can’t do that, in tHis PassagE froM tHE nasHvillE sEriEs of crocEtt al-manacs, Davy Crockett’s definition of the person who is not scorned ...
“Bawn in a Brier-patch” and Frontier Bred: Joel Chandler Harris’s Debt to the Humor of the Old South
JoEl cHandlEr Harris’s Most Ell non cHaractEr, Uncle Remus, has been and continues to be a critically polarizing figure in American literature, and the Uncle Remus collections have dominated scholarly attention to Harris’s work. While Alice Walker con-demns Harris as a cultural thief and refers to the Uncle Remus charac-ter as “a creature,” other scholars like Ralph Ellison and James Weldon ...
From Swamp Doctor to Conjure Woman: Exploring “Science” and Race in Nineteenth-Century America
...in His collEction of dialEct talEs PuBlisHEd in The Conjure Woman and Other Conjure Tales, Charles Chesnutt challenges a wide range of social and scientific prescriptions of racial difference that per-vaded the culture surrounding the Civil War. Working against the popu-lar tradition of plantation fiction, Chesnutt’s Conjure Tales disrupts the traditional narrative of black inferiority and presents a counter-narrative ...
Sherwood Bonner and the Postbellum Legacy of Southwestern Humor
...tHis Essa BEtras traditional EPEctations for soutH-western humor in two signal ways: It focuses on four stories written, not in the antebellum period, but in the postbellum one—all authored by a woman. My purpose is not to argue with the useful and largely accurate characterizations of the genre that have held sway, or with the trajectory of the form’s prevalence.1 Rather, my goal is to suggest that the eclectic ...
“I wa’ n’t bawn in de mash to be fool’ by trash!”: Mark Twain’s “A True Story” and the Culmination of Southern Frontier Humor
...mar tain’s storiEs HavE BEEn antHologiEd frE-quently in collections of Southwest humor. Cohen and Dillingham included several sketches by Twain in the 1964 and 1975 edi-tions of their foundational anthology, Humor of the Old Southwest. In their 1994 revision, they removed Twain, arguing that “Mark Twain is now recognized as the culmination of Old Southwestern Humor,” and that ...
Morphing Once Again: From Jack to Simon Suggs to Aunt Lucille
...tricstErs rEsEMBlE sHit in tHat tHE Elicit Hilarit or gravity, sometimes both. They are both ubiquitous.1 Neither is wel-come in polite company. One indication that the characters Jack, found in oral tales developed in the hills and hollows of Appalachia, Johnson Jones Hooper’s Simon Suggs, and Mark Childress’s Aunt Lucille belong to a trickster tradition is that the same generalizations can be made about ...
Anancy’s Web/Sut’s Stratagems: Humor, Race, and Trickery in Jamaica and the Old Southwest
...ovEr tHE cEnturiEs, tricstEr talEs and storiEs HavE been generated in most parts of the world, and many of them found their way to North America via the slave ships that supported the planta-tion economy of the New World but also disseminated the people of the African diaspora. One of the chief exports from Western Africa was the Ashanti people, whose folklore centered on the spider trickster Anansi/...
Postmodern Humor ante Litteram: Self-Reflexivity, Incongruity, and Dialect in George Washington Harris’s Yarns Spun
Self-Reflexivity, Incongruity, and Dialect in George Washington WHEn Milton ricEls rotE, in His 1959 Essa on George Washington Harris’s imagery, that among the humor-ists of the Old Southwest, “Harris was among the least interesting in the variety of his plots, but at the same time the most intense in his vi-sion, and the most self-conscious in his use of language” (173), he did not ...
The Real Big Kill: Authenticity, Ecology, and Narrative in Southern Frontier Humor
...oncE of tHE ricHEst traditions itHin tHE gEnrE of old Southwest humor is the embellished story of the hunt, emphasizing the resourcefulness, tenacity, and self-reliance of the nineteenth-century American frontiersman. In recounting these stories, southern humor-ists, taken as a group, depict a veritable massacre of deer, bears, bison, raccoons, wolves, mountain lions, and a plethora of game bird and fish ...
Page Count: 224
Publication Year: 2013