Cover image for Encyclopedia of 20th-century American humor
Encyclopedia of 20th-century American humor
Nilsen, Alleen Pace.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Phoenix, Ariz. : Oryx Press, 2000.
Physical Description:
ix, 360 pages : illustrations ; 26 cm
Reading Level:
1400 Lexile.
Added Author:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PS438 .N55 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks-Non circulating

On Order



June Carter was born in the rugged mountains of Maces Springs, Virginia, to Ezra and Maybelle Carter, pioneers of country music. On stage from a very young age, June found her niche in the spotlight with her vivacious personality and down-home sense of humor. Her confidence and spirit were what attracted Johnny Cash to her in the late 1950s. On the road together, they quickly bonded. June was his helpmate and closest companion. They were married for forty years, through addiction and success, tragedy and triumph.

 Anchored in Love is an inside look into the life of June Carter Cash, through the eyes of her only child with Johnny Cash-John Carter Cash. With skillful prose, he reveals new information about the legendary woman through his tender memories and heartwarming stories.

Author Notes

Alleen Pace Nilsen is professor of English at Arizona State University and the editor of the International Society for Humor Studies (ISHS) Newsletter. She is also a recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award for Scholarship and Service from the ISHS. She is the author of Literature for Todays Young Adults, Presenting M. E. Kerr, and Language Play in addition to many humor related articles. In addition, Dr. Nilsen is a founding member of the ISHS and a former president of the American Humor Studies Association.

DON L.F. NILSEN is professor of English at Arizona State University and executive secretary for the International Society for Humor Studies (ISHS). He is the author of many books about humor including Humor in Eighteenth- and Nineteenth-Century British Literature: A Reference Guide

mor Scholarship: A Research Bibliography

mor in American Literature: A Selected Annotated Bibliography

nguage Play: An Introduction to Linguistics

d English Adverbials. He has also edited several books on humor including Humor and Translation and a series of six World Humor and Irony Membership Serial Yearbook (WHIMSY) titles. Dr. Nilsen has also been recognized by Contemporary Authors, International Whos Who in Education, and 2,000 Notable American Men.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

The authors had been studying the subject of humor for 25 years when they were approached by Oryx to put their knowledge in encyclopedic form. The result is a 98-entry reference work. A bibliography that includes scholarly works on humor, biographies, and joke books stretches over 20 pages and rounds out the text. Arranged alphabetically, articles vary in length from one to five pages. A few are illustrated with cartoons and photographs. Some longer articles are broken down into subtopics. For example, Drama includes sections on "Comedy of Humors" and "Comedy of Manners," followed by brief entries for 10 playwrights noted for humor in their plays. Radio and Television include entries for selected programs. Many articles end with lists of suggestions for further reading. Despite the subject, the book's overall tone is serious; Academic study of humor is one entry. Coverage is quite thorough, encompassing topics like African American humor, Aging and humor, Censorship, Frontier humor, Musical comedians, and School humor. The authors have created a reference work that would appeal to psychologists, educators, sociologists, and other professionals who study emotional behavior. It will also appeal to those who are interested in what people find funny and why. The volume is enlivened by many examples of jokes, paradoxes, put-downs, and other forms of humor. Recommended for public and academic libraries.

Choice Review

The Nilsens outdo themselves in compiling this intriguing, amusing, and relaxed guide to humor from knock-knock jokes, Molly Ivins, and put-downs to Waiting for Godot, film noir, and postmodernism. Beyond clarity in formatting and describing topic, limits, and methods, their book has the essential attribute of readability. Crucial to entry composition is balance between commentary and examples. Humor analysis often loses itself in private ruminations on favorite jokes (often the case with Leo Rosten on Jewish humor). The Nilsens maintain an easy pace but never drop the reins, mastering selves and subject to offer a neat, succinct, valuable overview of the words, sounds, and gestures that tickle the native funny bone. Driving their research is a life commitment to perusing, collecting, teaching, and hobby-level deconstruction of humor in novels, cinema and stage, advertising, roadside art, nonsense verse, cross-dressing, and urban wit. Particularly valuable are 50 black-and-white photos and clips of dominant personalities (a feminist Doonesbury cartoon, Hepburn and Grant in Bringing Up Baby, Lucille Ball, Burns and Allen, Whoopi Goldberg, even Gerald Ford). Entries contain incisive definitions, ample bulleted models, alphabetized bios, and bibliographies for serious reading. Teachers, librarians, and researchers will love the 21-page humor bibliography trimmed back to the best. The index meticulously lists titles, authors, comics, and styles. The book is not without flaw. Despite spectacular coverage--vaudeville, comic strips, gothic humor, riddles, clowns, complex modes of irony, dialect, understatement--it is surprising to find no mention of camp, rap, repartee, Brer Rabbit and Joel Chandler Harris, Florence King, or satirist-scatologist T.C. Boyle. The Nilsens are less attuned to folk and rural humor than Jan Brunvand's American Folklore: An Encyclopedia (CH, Oct'96), less specific about elements of satire than this reviewer's Encyclopedia of Satirical Literature (CH, Jun'97), and they fail to mention Susan Sontag's groundbreaking essay "Notes on Camp," Partisan Review 31 (1964): 515-528. The Nilsens' encyclopedia is scholarly, reasonably priced. and engaging; librarians and teachers should scarf up a copy. M. E. Snodgrass; Independent Scholar

Table of Contents

Encyclopedia of 20th-Century American Humor