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The “Transatlantic” and Late Nineteenth-Century American Women's Humor

Margaret D. Stetz
Studies in American Humor
Vol. 1, No. 1 (2015), pp. 1-19
DOI: 10.5325/studamerhumor.1.1.0001
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.5325/studamerhumor.1.1.0001
Page Count: 19
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The “Transatlantic” and Late Nineteenth-Century American Women's Humor
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Abstract

For many years, scholars wrongly characterized nineteenth-century American humor as having been an exclusively masculine preserve. When feminist historians corrected this error, they also introduced a new one, defining women's humor writing in too narrow a fashion—that is, as limited to the vernacular mode. Some late nineteenth-century American women's comic poetry and autobiographical fiction, however, also embraced a sophisticated voice that derived from and responded to British models. These works—by figures such as Ella Wheeler Wilcox, Frances Hodgson Burnett, Helen Gray Cone, and Carolyn Wells—positioned themselves as part of a transatlantic tradition of literary wit. Reviving and reconsidering these overlooked and unjustly neglected texts today will allow us to remap the landscape of American humor studies.

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