"Masquerade and Postsocialism was an exhilarating read that offered much inspiration on the relevance of anthropological insights into larger social problems and critique of hegemonic models for political and economic reforms. Clearly and accessibly written, I strongly recommend this book for both introductory and advanced level courses." —American Ethnologist
"Masquerade and Postsocialism is written with great sympathy for the people it describes and bears the marks of a work matured by decades of fieldwork. Creed takes the rare (and brave) step of choosing to analyse an indigenous tradition as a key to understanding the state of contemporary society, where others have typically sought answers to the same questions in studies of privatization and structures of governance."
"The power of Newmahr’s analysis is that she goes beyond the exotic eroticism of her subject in order to open up broader theoretical debates around the concepts of edgework, gender identity, intimacy, and risk."
"[This] volume spans nearly a millennium of the Greco-Roman world. It offers a snapshot of the best work in a burgeoning subfield. Especially welcome is the fresh attention paid to issues of female agency, local differentiation in cult practices, and the precise literary, material, and socio-political contexts of our evidence." —Journal of Folklore Research
IU Press author Henry Glassie will give the opening plenary address at the annual meeting of the American Folklore Society, which takes place Oct. 12-15 in Bloomington. Henry will speak on "War, Peace, and the Folklorist’s Mission" Oct. 12 at 8 p.m. in Alumni Hall. This lecture is free and open to the public.
Several other IU Press authors will be presenting or attending the meeting. For a complete schedule of events, visit the conference's website.
Henry Glassie is College Professor Emeritus of Folklore at Indiana University Bloomington. He is author of numerous books, most recently Prince Twins Seven-Seven (IUP 2010).
"On the surface ... it might appear challenging for an anthology of Ramayana Stories in Modern South India to tell us something new about the epic. This is, however, precisely what Paula Richman has been able to do through this lively and engaging volume. ... The translations ... are lucid and of consistently high quality. ... The utility of this book for active undergraduate learning cannot be overstated." —H-Asia
Jokes and Targets takes up an appealing and entertaining topic—the social and historical origins of jokes about familiar targets such as rustics, Jewish spouses, used car salesmen, and dumb blondes. In the analysis, author Christie Davies explains why political jokes flourished in the Soviet Union, why Europeans tell jokes about American lawyers but not about their own lawyers, and why sex jokes often refer to France rather than to other countries. We recently caught up with Davies to find out more about this fascinating topic, his book, and to see if he was willing to reveal his favorite joke.
How did you first become interested in the subject of humor, and why is it important to study it?
I have always loved humor all my life as a reader, viewer, performer, and writer, and have published a book of humorous short stories, two joke-books, and hundreds of humorous, satirical, and ironic articles. However my academic work was on the history, sociology, and politics of morality, culminating in my book The Strange Death of Moral Britain. Then the very first scholarly conference on humor in Cardiff in 1976 led me to take up the study of humor, and I gave several papers on the subject at various universities. In 1982 I published my first article in a leading journal, the British Journal of Sociology, and shortly afterwards [I received] a letter from an editor at Indiana University Press who had read the article and invited me to write Ethnic Humor Around the World. It was to be the first of my five books about humor. A book is much improved if the author is in love with his subject.
It is crucial to study humor because it is so important to ordinary people both as an intense form of pleasure and as time off from the tedium and restraints of everyday life. It is a far more difficult topic to analyze than is generally thought, and it takes an experienced professional scholar to write about it.
What makes a good joke?
A good joke has an engaging narrative and a sudden and unexpected punch line. It breaks one of the inhibiting conventions about how we are supposed to speak in polite company or when being rational communicators.
What is your favorite joke?
My favorite jokes tend to be esoteric or unprintable.
So lets go with
Butler: That beggar is at the door again? He claims to be a relative of yours.
Aristocrat: He must be some kind of idiot!
Butler: I agree my lord but that hardly disproves his claim.
Why do some jokes emerge and become ubiquitous?
Jokes are not invented by gag writers. They emerge from the social interactions of individuals, but now increasingly spread via the internet. Jokes come in cycles, as with disaster jokes, ethnic jokes, lawyer jokes, and blonde and Essex girl jokes. Explaining particular joke cycles is the purpose of this book. In totalitarian societies such as the former Soviet Union, jokes were truly ubiquitous since they were time off from the oppressiveness of always having to guard what you said.
What inspired you to write this book?
I wanted to explore kinds of jokes—lawyer jokes, banker jokes, Jewish jokes about Jewish gender roles, Soviet jokes, jokes about sex (the French and sex, blondes and sex, and sex between men)—that I had never thoroughly investigated before and place them in their social and historical context. Also I wanted to build a new and better model explaining why such disperate groups such as orthopedic surgeons, marines, aristocrats, athletes, Newfoundlanders, blondes, carabinieri, and Sikhs become the butt of stupidity jokes while others do not.
What type of research went into discovering the jokes and their origins?
The key source is folklore archives which also record who told the joke, where the teller had heard it, and what it meant to them, and also simply individuals telling me jokes in person or by email. Joke books in many languages are also important as are internet postings. Wide reading in history and biography also provides good jokes which the authors of these works have placed in context.
Was there a society or group whose humor and jokes were most interesting to study?
Jewish jokes. The Jews invent more varied and more intricate jokes than another group.
How is this book different from your previous IU Press book, Ethnic Humor Around the World?
It is much broader in scope and deals with jokes about professions and social classes, sex jokes, and political jokes which were not in the earlier book. This one is comprehensive.
What resources should readers consult to find out more information about humor and jokes?