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Gender and Identity in Humorous Discourse Genero e identidad en el discurso humorístico

by Esther Linares Bernabéu (Volume editor)
Edited Collection 184 Pages

Table Of Content

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Contents
  • List of contributors
  • Introduction: The connection between humorous discourse, gender and identity
  • Parody and indexing gender: Performing female comic figures on German TV
  • Humor, género e identidad en la conversación coloquial española
  • The functions of cursing in humorous Dublin sport club interactions: The emphatic functions of cursing amplify the humorous effect
  • Elementos lingüísticos del humor: el caso de la fraseología en las conversaciones de hombres
  • Mitigation as a pragmatic strategy in subversive female stand-up comedy
  • Estudio del determinismo humorístico en la población infantil
  • Children performing humor: Gender identity and social alignment
  • La conformación de la identidad digital de estudiantes de ELE en las redes sociales: el caso de Instagram

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List of contributors

Dr. Laura Aliaga Aguza

University of Alicante

Dr. María Belén Alvarado Ortega

University of Alicante

Dr. María del Mar Galido Merino

University of Alicante

Prof. Helga Kotthoff

University of Freiburg

Dr. Esther Linares Bernabéu

University of Navarra

Dr. María del Carmen
Méndez Santos

University of Alicante

Fergus O’Dwyer

University of Dublin

Prof. Leonor Ruiz Gurillo

University of Alicante

Esther Linares Bernabéu

Introduction: The connection between humorous discourse, gender and identity

Humour is an everyday reality and occurs in all sorts of contexts (Martin & Kuiper, 2016), and this is the reason why it is a phenomenon that has been observed and studied from all angles since ancient times. Indeed, it is a subject that has awakened the interest of scholars from a wide variety of disciplines, and consequently, studies on humour have been carried out in different fields of science such as linguistics, sociology, psychology, education or medicine, to name a few. However, anyone interested in studying humour should know that this in itself is not amusing, although researching such a complex and miscellaneous phenomenon may be pleasurable. Accordingly, throughout this book the authors will attempt to show that humour research is a very serious matter, as it is a multifaceted phenomenon that relies on human attributes such as perception, cognition and emotions. In fact, when studying verbal humour, we may encounter a variety of terms such as laughter, wit, comedy, raillery, scorn, ridicule, mirth or the risible, which refer to different manifestations of humour, attitudes and approaches to it (Larkin-Galiñanes, 2017: 4).

The complexity of this phenomenon has given rise to many linguistic theories in which models for humour analysis have been set out, as we will show in the next chapters. However, we agree with Ritchie’s statement that, although these theories do complement each other, they are not complete, or to put it in his words:

A full theory would describe all types of humour, and would relate the mechanisms of humour in an explanatory fashion to more basic human facilities such as perception and cognition, as well as providing a convincing account of the evolution of the phenomenon of humour.

Ritchie (2018: 6)

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Likewise, there is no doubt that humour is an intrinsically human phenomenon that crosses many lines and boundaries, including those of gender. Norrick and Spitz (2009: 267) state that humour can be referred to as “a gendered discourse resource on which both men and women regularly draw when negotiating their gender identities in interaction”. Likewise, it has been proven that humour reception and production is affected by different variables such as age, ethnicity or gender (Crawford, 2003; Martin, 2007; Timofeeva, 2014). In this study, we will focus on gender, as it is a key factor in humorous discourse performed by female Spanish comedians. On this point, Chiaro & Baccolinni (2014) state that:

Gender conditions the most minute details of our lives, possibly more than our age, our social background, and our ethnicity, and, thus, it stands to reason that the way we “do” humour may also, in some way, be accordingly gendered.

Chiaro & Baccolinni (2014:1)

This could be the reason why there is a burgeoning interest in humorous discourse from a gender perspective and research on this issue has brought fascinating results. However, despite the literature on language and gender, the study of these dimensions in humorous discourses remain virtually unchart-ered territory. Consequently, this book stems from the interest in exploring gender and identity in different humorous discourses taken from Spanish, English and German corpora female in order to research how gender and identity can be represented and performed through humour.

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In particular, in chapter 2 Helga Kotthoff addresses conversational everyday parody and then discusses two examples of female social types that comedians have performed on German television. The author refers to the concept of “indexing gender” and points out that the fun in parodies cannot be explained simply by punchlines based on sudden switches of frames. Chapter 3 deals with conversational humour in everyday interactions between men and women. In this third chapter, Leonor Ruiz-Gurillo provides an excellent analysis of everyday oral conversations to show how gender identity can be co-constructed through humour and irony. Chapter 4 presents a fascinating research by Fergus O’Dwyer on male-only interactions in Dublin sports clubs and brings valuable insights into how cursing and humour facilitates the expression of emotions and projections of identity. In chapter 5, María Belén Alvarado-Ortega presents a study on how men produce humour by the use of specific phraseological units in order to show several conversational strategies and define their gender identity as a social in-group. Chapter 6 explores the use of mitigation in subversive female’s stand-up comedy as a rhetorical-pragmatic device that enables the comedian to deal more easily with topics or issues that could be controversial or troublesome. Then, in chapter 7, Laura María Aliaga-Aguza studies primary school children’s humour competence in written stories and observes that children acquire their metalinguistic and metapragmatic competence gradually. Likewise, in chapter 8, María del Mar Galindo Merino analyses humour in children’s humorous narratives and shows that by the age of 8, boys and girls already project and construct their gender identity through humor: boys, by displaying aggressiveness and status, girls, overwhelmed by reality and in uncomfortable situations. Finally, in chapter 9 María del Carmen Méndez Santos explores the digital identity of students of Spanish as a Foreign Language and identifies that students posts in Spanish (memes, anecdotes and other sort of pictures) in order to share their experiences and shape a new self with this type of cyberspeech.

This is quite an innovate approach, as most past research on the relationship between humour discourse and gender has fallen into two main field camps: namely the construction of gender through humour in conversation (Lampert and Ervin-Tripp, 1998; Hay, 2000; Holmes, Marra & Burns, 2001; Holmes & Meyerhoff, 2003; Kotthoff, 2006), and the performance of gender in humour discourse from a socio-anthropological and psychological point of view (Greenbaum, 1999; Gilbert, 2004; Martin, 2014).

References

Burns, L., Marra, M., & Holmes, J. (2001). Women’s humour in the workplace: a quantitative analysis. Australian Journal of Communication, 28(1), 83.

Chiaro, D., & Baccolini, R. (Eds.). (2014). Gender and humour: Interdisciplinary and international perspectives. Routledge.

Crawford, M. (2003). Gender and humour in social context. Journal of pragmatics, 35(9), 1413–1430.

Gilbert, J. R. (2004). Performing marginality: Humour, gender, and cultural critique. Wayne State University Press.

Greenbaum, A. (1999). Stand-up comedy as rhetorical argument: An investigation of comic culture. Humour-International Journal of Humour Research, 12(1), pp. 33–46.

Hay, J. (2000). Functions of humor in the conversations of men and women. Journal of pragmatics, 32(6), pp. 709–742.

Holmes, J., & Meyerhoff, M. (2003). Different voices, different views: An introduction to current research in language and gender. The handbook of language and gender, 1–17.

Holmes, J., Marra, M., Burns, L. (2001). Women’s humor in the workplace: a quantitative analysis. Australian Journal of Communication, 28(1), pp. 83–108.

Kotthoff, H. (2006). Gender and humour: The state of the art. Journal of pragmatics, 38(1), pp. 4–25.

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Lampert, M. D., & Ervin-Tripp, S. M. (1998). Exploring paradigms: The study of gender and sense of humor near the end of the 20th century. The sense of humor: Explorations of a personality characteristic, 3, pp. 231–270.

Larkin-Galiñanes, C. (2017). An overview of humor theory. In The routledge handbook of language and humor (pp. 4–16). Routledge.

Martin, R. (2007). The psychology of humour: An integrative approach. Burlington, MA: Elsevier.

Summary

There is a burgeoning interest in humorous discourse from a gender perspective, and research on this issue has brought fascinating results. However, despite the literature on language and gender, the study of these dimensions in humorous discourses remains virtually unchartered territory. Consequently, this book stems from the interest in exploring gender and identity in different humorous discourses taken from Spanish, English and German corpora in order to explore how gender and identity can be represented and performed through humour.

Biographical notes

Esther Linares Bernabéu (Volume editor)

Esther Linares-Bernabéu, PhD in linguistic studies, MA in Spanish and English as second/foreign languages, MA in education and BA in English studies from the University of Alicante. She is a research fellow at the Institute for Culture and Society (ICS) of the University of Navarra and her main research interests are in the field of pragmatics, sociolinguistics and gender studies. In particular, she focuses on verbal humour, the discursive construction of identity, mediation and dispute resolution in digital and everyday contexts.

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Title: Gender and Identity in Humorous Discourse Genero e identidad en el discurso humorístico