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New England humor : from the Revolutionary War to the Civil War

Author: Cameron C Nickels
Publisher: Knoxville : University of Tennessee Press, ©1993.
Edition/Format:   Print book : State or province government publication : English : 1st edView all editions and formats
Summary:
Although New England provided the most popular form of American literary humor in the nineteenth century, scholars have traditionally passed over it in favor of the more earthy "frontier" humor of the era. Cameron C. Nickels argues, however, that New England humor had a significant place in the cultural and political history of the time. Widely circulated in print and on stage, New England humor was, in fact, a
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Genre/Form: Criticism, interpretation, etc
Material Type: Government publication, State or province government publication, Internet resource
Document Type: Book, Internet Resource
All Authors / Contributors: Cameron C Nickels
ISBN: 0870498045 9780870498046
OCLC Number: 27429916
Description: xvii, 277 pages ; 24 cm
Contents: 1. New England Humor and the Dilemma of American Identity --
2. Early American Humor --
3. New England Humor on Stage --
4. New England Humor in Print: Stories, Letters, and Poems --
5. New England Humor Illustrated --
6. The New England Cracker-barrel Philosophers.
Responsibility: Cameron C. Nickels.

Abstract:

Although New England provided the most popular form of American literary humor in the nineteenth century, scholars have traditionally passed over it in favor of the more earthy "frontier" humor of the era. Cameron C. Nickels argues, however, that New England humor had a significant place in the cultural and political history of the time. Widely circulated in print and on stage, New England humor was, in fact, a national humor.

Entertainment was the primary function of nineteenth-century humor, but Nickels believes that it also played a serious role in the complex struggle to give substance to the national identity promised by the American Revolution. Central to New England humor is the figure of the rustic Yankee - Brother Jonathan, the archetypal American, a figure who would evolve into Uncle Sam.

Taking many forms, the rustic Yankee embodied the dilemma of a nation asserting its identity within vernacular New World values while aspiring to traditional Old World values. Nickels suggests that the tensions of this dilemma could be expressed in humor.

. Bringing together approaches that encompass elements of literature, political science, and history, Nickels explores the complexities of our evolving national persona and helps us to understand New England humor within the political and cultural contexts of the nineteenth century.

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