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Genres and Styles of Comedy

  • By: Jessica Milner Davis
  • In: Encyclopedia of Humor Studies
  • Edited by: Salvatore Attardo
  • Subject:General Media, Communication & Cultural Studies, Sociology of Culture

Although an imprecise and contested term, genre is an important tool in the study of humor and comedy. One traditional function of literary criticism in the 1960s and 1970s was to pin down definitions of different categories of styles and modes in works, identifying literary and non-literary genres. At its best, this made sense of complex critical terminology for the intelligent reader and was not undertaken pedantically. In the 1980s, genre became a tool for the linguistic analysis of popular texts and, as Vijay Bhatia (2012, p. 17) records, even products of professional practice such as the business prospectus and instructional manual. But the concept of genre itself became politicized, subject to the charge of mandatory and exclusionary labeling. Scholars like Bernadette Casey point out ...

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