This book focuses on southern frontier humor, a genre that first emerged in the 1830s, mainly in the lower South and the then Southwest, and has since exerted an enduring influence on American literature and popular culture. The book looks at topics ranging from recovery to Mark Twain, the intersection between laughter and cultural conquest, intersections between Jamaican Anancy tricksters and their southern frontier counterparts, and legacy pieces showing affinities between the South’s frontier humor and southern local color writers. It examines Henry Junius Nott’s pioneering work such as Novelettes of a Traveller; or, Odds and Ends from the Knapsack of Thomas Singularity (1834), paying particular attention to the longest of the novelettes, “Biographical Sketch of Thomas Singularity.” It also considers the “hysterical power” of laughter and its role in broadening democracy and expanding social empowerment. Furthermore, the book discusses southern frontier humor in the context of contemporary critical theory, postmodernism, and ecocriticism.
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