Spring 2022

Writing About Humor

Listed in: English, as ENGL-110


Kristina H. Reardon (Section 01)


Why do we laugh at some jokes but not others? What makes something funny? This class will explore humor as a core rhetorical concept to study audience, genre, purpose, context, and exigency. We will analyze how situational and language humor work in essays, stories, and visual media. Students will build their critical reading and writing skills through short, low-stakes weekly writing and three major papers. We will consider how the intersectional identities of authors and audiences (i.e.: how class, race, gender, and disability, among others) influence joke construction and reception. As we read, we will pay close attention to the way that writers use humor as a tool for social critique and to release tension. Students can expect to build a toolkit for creating arguments with evidence, and they will frequently revise the content, organization, and language in their work. We will work together to develop a community of writers who can mutually support each other through the writing process.

Preference given to first-year Amherst College students. Admission with consent of the instructor. Limited to 15 students. Spring semester. Lecturer Reardon.

Students who enroll in this course will likely encounter and be expected to engage in the following intellectual skills, modes of learning, and assessment: emphasis on written work, readings, and revision Students with documented disabilities who will require accommodations in this course should be in consultation with Accessibility Services and reach out to the faculty member as soon as possible to ensure that accommodations can be made in a timely manner.


2023-24: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2022