The Consolations of Humor and Other Folklore Essays
256 pages, 6 x 9
Release Date:01 Nov 2023
Release Date:01 Nov 2023

The Consolations of Humor and Other Folklore Essays

Utah State University Press
The Consolations of Humor and Other Folklore Essays unfolds as a series of questions, commentaries, and criticisms of the analysis, interpretation, and explanation of folklore. Can we confidently regard jokes as the catharsis of sexual and aggressive impulses? What is the basis for characterizing a joke as Jewish or Scottish or Japanese? What do we really know about “dirty jokes”? How is a text or behavior constructed so that it is perceived as humorous? Can we get a computer to reliably recognize jokes? What is the relevance of memetics and a Darwinian paradigm to understanding folklore change over time? Can we identify laws operating in the realm of folklore? How can the marginalization, extinction, or continuity of traditions be explained? In the course of addressing these questions, Elliott Oring identifies some fundamental problems, brings new evidence and observations to the discussion, and proffers some original and startling insights.

While recognizing the study of jokes and other forms of folklore as a humanistic endeavor, Oring believes in the relevance of a scientific perspective to the enterprise. He values clear definitions, tests of hypotheses and theories, empirical evidence, experiment, and the search for laws. Written in a sophisticated yet accessible style, The Consolations of Humor and Other Folklore Essays stimulates both scholars and students alike and contributes to the creation of a more robust folkloristics in the twenty-first century.
Perceptive, timely, and provocative. Oring’s writing, as ever, is clear and direct.’
—Ian Brodie, Cape Breton University
‘As with everything Professor Oring has written, this latest collection inspires, incenses, and ignites conversations we all need to have—that is, we scholars, students, and citizens living in complicated times. It is yet another significant contribution of his to folklore studies, to humor studies, and to social theory that draws meaningfully from all three. One cannot help but admire Professor Oring’s tireless efforts to make us think better. This book is an excellent illustration of his artistry at work.’
Stephen Olbrys Gencarella, University of Massachusetts Amherst
Elliott Oring is professor emeritus of anthropology at California State University, Los Angeles and a visiting research scholar in the Department of Folklore and Ethnomusicology at Indiana University Bloomington. He was a Fulbright Scholar at the University of Iceland, Reykjavík, and has received the American Folklore Society Lifetime Scholarly Achievement Award; the International Society for Humor Studies Lifetime Achievement Award for Scholarship, Research, and the Advancement of Humor Studies; and the Rebecca and Gene Stirling Award for Contributions to Psychological Anthropology. He has written extensively about folklore, humor, and cultural symbolism.
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