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What we learned teaching HON 394: Humor across the Disciplines By Alleen and Don Nilsen Emeritus College Arizona State University 1.

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Presentation on theme: "What we learned teaching HON 394: Humor across the Disciplines By Alleen and Don Nilsen Emeritus College Arizona State University 1."— Presentation transcript:

1 What we learned teaching HON 394: Humor across the Disciplines By Alleen and Don Nilsen Emeritus College Arizona State University 1

2 Teaching HON 394: “Humor across the Disciplines” In the Fall Semester of 2012, one year after we had retired from 38 years of teaching at Arizona State University. Don had been a Professor of Linguistics, and Alleen had been the Chair of English Education. We had the good fortune to be the first recipients of an Arizona State University’s Barrett Honors College fellowship, co-sponsored by the ASU Emeritus College. As part of the fellowship, we taught a one-semester class for three upper-division credit hours to 21 students. They were mostly juniors and seniors, ten males and eleven females, with a wide variety of majors. Our official course title was “Humor across the Disciplines. 2

3 We started with history and theories about humor scholarship, and then went on to show how humor plays a part in such academic areas as: AnthropologyArtBusinessCreative Writing GerontologyMusic PhilosophyPoliticsPsychology We also discussed Cultural Studies (including issues relating to gender and ethnicity) Health Care (both Physical and Emotional) Linguistics (including language changes brought about by the digital age and worldwide communication Literature (including characterization, the naming of people, places, and things, and the use of parody, sarcasm, satire, and irony) The Performing Arts (including comic films, drama, sit-coms, stand-up comedians and late night television), 3

4 Learning from the HON 394 Students While these were the subjects we brought to class, the students came with such a different array of subjects, techniques, and attitudes that in our minds we thought of the class as “Laughing across the Generations.” And then, because every student arrived in class carrying some piece of digital equipment—a smart phone, a tablet, or a laptop computer—which they frequently referred to, we thought maybe the class should have been called “Humor in a Digital Age.” We were lucky to be teaching the course at the same time as the Presidential election, because the various campaigns provided us with plenty of real-life evidence regarding the role of humor in public life However some jokes and cartoons were considered humorous to some of the students but were interpreted as hate speech by others. 4

5 Phase Two of HON 394  ENG 394 5

6 Meet some of our students: 6

7 They wanted education to be fun 7

8 Student memes made us see medicine differently 8

9 9

10 Even calories were viewed differently 10

11 History took on a different perspective 11

12 Our students had a more playful view of linguistics 12

13 …and punctuation became more fun 13

14 They taught us the difference between writers and readers 14

15 They taught us about Twilight, about Trekkies, and about Nerdfighters 15

16 They also taught us many psychological concepts like anger and contentment 16

17 Curiosity and Desire 17

18 Fear and Sadness 18

19 Love and Narcisism 19

20 Surprise 20

21 They also taught us about point of view 21

22 Our students also taught us an important rhetorical concept 22

23 Our students also taught some important sociological concepts 23

24 They also taught us about LOL Cats and about Computers 24

25 Our class taught us about photo bombing: 25

26 Sloth & Cat Tail Photobombs: 26

27 They taught us about yarn bombing 27

28 They taught us about the evolution of the Cell Phone 28

29 They taught us about how Millennials get their news and entertainment from the web —often at the same time 29

30 Mainly, they taught us about digital humor, some of which was gender based 30 (Eschholz-Rosa-Clark [2009]: 105)

31 Another Gender-Related Computer Joke 31

32 …and still another 32

33 Our students taught us about how errors get corrected in the digital age I have a spelling checker. It came with my PC. It plane lee marks four my revue Miss steaks aye can knot sea. 33

34 One student taught us about Facebook Humor: 34

35 Teachers and students viewed texting differently: We Make Our Own Meanings 35

36 Another student taught us about cell phone humor: 36

37 Cell Phone Humor: Damn Auto-Correct! 37

38 The teachers and students viewed cell phones differently: 38

39 Still other students taught us about memes Here is the Lazy College Student Meme 39

40 The Lincoln Meme 40

41 The Philosophoraptor Meme 41

42 And the Success Kid Meme 42

43 Where do we go from here? Alleen, along with all of the students, kept a journal during the class. Alleen also edited versions of the students’ term papers, and the entire class (under Alleen’s supervision) would like to publish a book—we’re looking for a publisher. Kevin Risser, one of our students kept working with us during the Spring Semester; he will serve as a co-author of the book. We thank him for: the insights he offered during the class, writing some of the sections, and helping us avoid errors that are typical for digital immigrants. We also thank Arizona State University’s Emeritus College, and the Barrett Honors College for inaugurating this pioneering program for the emeritus faculty. 43




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