Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Live well, Love much, Laugh often

Looking back on the semester as we get closer to finals, I think that our humor studies class was definitely one of my favorite classes this semester. I looked forward to reading the assigned works each week, studying the forms of humor present in each, and seeing how the author's structured their books to present the humor. Many times, I looked forward to reading as a welcome temporary relief from the homework due in my other classes. When we first started class in January, I thought I had a pretty good understanding of humor and the role it can play in literature and the media. However, as we progressed through the semester, I learned a lot about the different forms of humor and the impact it can have on everyday life.

I think the most surprising thing I learned during the class is how intricately tied humor is to life and humanity. I had heard of the incongruity theory of humor before, as well as the release/relief theory, but not about any of the others. Especially not the cosmic theory/opening to the numinous aspect of humor. This concept surprised me at first because I had always thought of humor as something more temporal and grounded in the everyday. But as we read each work, I saw how it can be used to connect people across different cultures and times, and create open discussion about life and what makes us human.

Each book that we read this semester offered a different perspective of humor. They showed how humor can be personal, but also universal at the same time as the reader was brought into the story and the humorous events protrayed inside. I know that if I hadn't taken this class, I probably would never have read many of the books we that we studied. This is mainly because I probably would not have noticed them on the shelves at the bookstore. With Diary of a Wimpy Kid, I would have most likely passed the book by because of its cover - which makes it seem as though it's intended for a younger audience. However, I'm glad I got the chance to read it, and definitely support the statement "you can't judge a book by it's cover".

Jeff Kinney's book is different from the other books we've read, but it deals with humor in a similar way. I really enjoyed reading Diary of a Wimpy Kid - as an avid fan of the Calvin and Hobbes series, I enjoyed the comics as much as reading about the many mishaps of Greg Heffley. Diary is a good example of how humor is tied into everyday life. For Greg Heffley, his experiences in middle school are serious and oftentimes very stressful. However, for the reader who looks on with an objective eye, Greg's experiences don't seem that bad in the grand scheme of things. This dichotomy is what makes the book humorous, and also provides the message that humor can make even the worst situations seem not so bad. While surfing the web one night, I came across a quote by Mark Twain about humor: "humor is mankind's greatest blessing". After thinking about what we learned this semester, I have to agree with him. Humor can help to mitigate even the biggest hurt, and can unite total strangers across great boundaries. I think the most important message that I'll take away from class this semester is that, along with love, it is important to always make room for humor in one's life.

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