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Jokes and the Discourse on Disaster

Elliott Oring
The Journal of American Folklore
Vol. 100, No. 397 (Jul. - Sep., 1987), pp. 276-286
DOI: 10.2307/540324
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/540324
Page Count: 11
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Jokes and the Discourse on Disaster
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Abstract

Jokes are ideational structures that are characterized by appropriate incongruity. Analyzing appropriate incongruities can lead to the formulation of a joke's base meaning, but performance meanings are varied and should be formulated with reference to specific cultural, social, and psychological environments. The cycle of jokes that followed the explosion of the space shuttle Challenger on 28 January 1986 may be understood without reference to depth psychology but rather by viewing their appropriate incongruities in relation to the conventions of public discourse.

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