New England Humor: From the Revolutionary War to the Civil War

New England Humor: From the Revolutionary War to the Civil War

by Cameron C. Nickels
     
 

Although New England provided the most popular form of American literary humor in the nineteenth century, scholars have traditionally passed over it in favor of the more earthy "frontier" humor of the era. Cameron C. Nickels argues, however, that New England humor had a significant place in the cultural and political history of the time. Widely circulated in print and…  See more details below

Overview

Although New England provided the most popular form of American literary humor in the nineteenth century, scholars have traditionally passed over it in favor of the more earthy "frontier" humor of the era. Cameron C. Nickels argues, however, that New England humor had a significant place in the cultural and political history of the time. Widely circulated in print and on stage, New England humor was, in fact, a national humor. Entertainment was the primary function of nineteenth-century humor, but Nickels believes that it also played a serious role in the complex struggle to give substance to the national identity promised by the American Revolution. Central to New England humor is the figure of the rustic Yankee - Brother Jonathan, the archetypal American, a figure who would evolve into Uncle Sam. Taking many forms, the rustic Yankee embodied the dilemma of a nation asserting its identity within vernacular New World values while aspiring to traditional Old World values. Nickels suggests that the tensions of this dilemma could be expressed in humor. Bringing together approaches that encompass elements of literature, political science, and history, Nickels explores the complexities of our evolving national persona and helps us to understand New England humor within the political and cultural contexts of the nineteenth century.

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Editorial Reviews

Booknews
Argues that New England humor has been neglected in favor of the earthier frontier humor of early America, that it embodied the tension between values of the old and new worlds, and that it played an important role in giving substance to the national identity promised by the struggle for independence. Highlights the cartoon, literary, and stage career of the rustic Yankee caricature, Brother Jonathan, who evolved into Uncle Sam. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780870498046
Publisher:
University of Tennessee Press
Publication date:
08/28/1993
Pages:
296
Product dimensions:
6.35(w) x 9.30(h) x 0.97(d)

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