Reading List: Frances


Queer identity politics

Stand-up comedy

Joke construction



Davies, Helen, and Sarah Ilott. Comedy Studies, vol. 9, no. 1, Apr. 2018.

Krefting, Rebecca. All Joking Aside : American Humor and Its Discontents. Johns Hopkins University Press, 2014.

Lotz, Amanda. The Television Will Be Revolutionized. New York University Press, 2014.

Warner, Michael. The Trouble with Normal : Sex, Politics, and the Ethics of Queer Life. Cambridge, MA : Harvard University Press, 2000., 2000.


Academic Journal:

Camera Obscura (Duke University Press)


I started my reading list with a question often posed to lesbian comedians: why are there so many gay stand-up comics? The response is usually related to finding coping mechanisms for trauma and internalized homophobia. However, there are many types of trauma, but not many survivors of car accidents immediately decide to become stand-up comedians. So what specifically about being part of the queer community lends itself to comedy writing?

I began this process by creating a list of as many comedy-related academic sources I could find. Many of the articles I located were published by the journal Comedy Studies. One special issue of the journal was a published record of the proceedings at a conference on comedy in relation to gender and sexuality studies. The issue references a wider variety of topics, from toxic masculinity to classism, and provides a good framework for my research. Another source, The Television Will Be Revolutionized, deals with how the producers of television and media have changed over time. Although it does not directly address stand-up, it focuses on a gradual shift occurring in who controls content production.

I selected All Joking Aside: American Humor and its Discontents because of its focus on word choice, organization, and rhythm. The first four chapters provide a history of the development of stand-up comedy, while the final three chapters are close-readings of the work of three comedians (Robin Tyler, Micia Mosely, and Hari Kondabolu). The focus on form is rare in the scholarship around stand-up, so this source will be uniquely helpful.

Finally, to complete my reading list I wanted sources that focused more on queer literature than on stand-up specifically. Professor Kersh recommended several sources to me, including the first chapter of Michael Warner’s The Trouble with Normal. After reading other chapters of the book, I found it useful because it deals with the idea of addressing shame, which many stand-up comedians discuss. In addition, many jokes work because they question societal norms, and this entire book focuses around questioning assumptions made both in society as a whole and within the queer community itself.

After reading Iyasere’s comments about how many scholars focus on cultural context and ignore the form of Things Fall Apart, I want to see more examples of how film/television media can be analyzed without making the same mistake Iyasare describes. Reading more examples of film criticism will help me learn how to balance cultural contexts with close readings of the text. For this reason, I have chosen to analyze a year’s worth of editions of Camera Obscura, published by Duke University. Each article analyzes television, film, and media from a feminist perspective. The journal will not only inform me about feminist theory and media, but also could provide models of how I balance social contexts with analyzing the text itself.

“Boyish Girl Interrupted.” Performance by Tig Notaro, HBO, 22 Aug. 2015.

In terms of primary sources, I want to compare how comedians handle queerness differently, specifically looking at how the jokes themselves are constructed. Hannah Gadsby’s special Nanette begins with her arguing that she must “quit comedy” because the form is destructive to the queer identity. Wanda Sykes also addresses her queerness, but specifically in conversation with blackness. Tig Notaro often deals with comedy and queerness more indirectly. Her special Boyish Girl Interrupted in particular explores identity questions specifically related to femininity and the body. At one point she removes her shirt to show her double mastectomy scars, performing the rest of the special shirtless. Other examples that interest me are Margaret Cho, Cameron Esposito, and Sam Jay.

Reading List: Kai

Keywords: biracialism, multiracialism, Asian American literature, identity, racial ambiguity

Secondary sources:

Ho, Jennifer Ann. Racial Ambiguity in Asian American Culture. Rutgers University Press, 2015.

Hoskins, Bruce Calvin. Asian American Racial Realities in Black and White. First Forum Press, 2011.

Root, Maria P. P. Racially Mixed People in America. Sage Publications, 1992.

Suyemoto, Karen L. “Racial/Ethnic Identities and Related Attributed Experiences of Multiracial Japanese European Americans.” Journal of Multicultural Counseling and Development, vol. 32, no. 4, Oct. 2004.

Academic journal: Multi Ethnic Literature of the U.S. (MELUS)

After compiling a list of draft materials for last week’s class, I knew that I wanted to expand on the keywords and concepts that I had thought of. Though I am still struggling with deciding on a more focused subject, I decided to go with topics that I am curious about and wish to do more research on. I am interested in the representation of multiracial people in literature and what the relationship is between their literary portrayals and realistic selves. I am specifically curious about works of both fiction & nonfiction and about biracial Asian Americans (such as half-Japanese & half-white Americans like myself) and how their identities are shaped culturally, nationally, and racially in both literary fiction and reality. Are biracial and/or multiracial groups prominent in literature? Does literature help multiracial people gain insight on their identities? What are the struggles that these groups face? What are the benefits?

Having grown up as a biracial person in America, I’m aware of how the challenges, emotions, and opportunities that shape identity and sense of belonging. I especially became interested in this topic after reading Trevor Noah’s memoir entitled Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood in which the author, a half white and half black man, navigates through apartheid South Africa. It was a refreshing read as Trevor Noah touched upon familiar topics such as biracialism, choosing sides, identity, and perspective in a simultaneous comical and serious manner. It made me wonder why stories revolving around multiracialism were not as prominent in mainstream literature. Additionally, I have recently read John Okada’s No-No Boy which goes into detail about torn cultural and national identity for Japanese Americans in the aftermath of World War II. This novel has gotten me interested in Asian Americans and their appearances in literature, hence why I wish to specifically focus on this ethnic national group of people.

In terms of authors and primary texts, I believe that Mary-Lee Chai’s Hapa Girl: A Memoir will provide me with helpful information for my research. This is because it is a story about the daughter of a Chinese father and an Irish-American mother and the racial anxiety, fear, hatred, and tension that she faces in both America and China. Reading a memoir through the eyes of a biracial character in an unwelcoming world will give me insight on the struggles of multiracial people and how they overcome such difficulties.


Reading List: Alexie

Key Terms:

  • Food Studies
  • Labor
  • Immigration

Secondary / Theoretical Works:

  • Brady, Mary Pat.  “‘So Your Social is Real?’ Vernacular Theorists and Economic Transformation”  Contemporary U.S. Latino/a Literary Criticism, edited by: Lyn Di Iorio Sandín and Richard Perez.  Palgrave Macmillan, New York, 2007. pp. 209-226. EBSCOhost.
  • Folsom, Michael B.  “Upton Sinclair’s Escape from The Jungle: The Narrative Strategy and Suppressed Conclusion of America’s First Proletarian Novel”  Prospects, vol. 4, 1979.  pp. 237-226.
  • Gerber, Larry G. “Shifting Perspectives on American Exceptionalism: Recent Literature on American Labor Relations and Labor Politics”  Journal of American Studies, Vol. 31, No. 2, 1997, pp.  253–274. JSTOR.
  • Hapke, Laura.  “The Usable Past”  Labor’s Text: The Worker in American Fiction.  Rutgers University Press, New Jersey, 2001.  pp. 285-295.

Academic Journal:

  • MELUS: Multi-Ethnic Literature of the U.S.


Over the summer, as I had begun to shape rough ideas about my Senior Thesis subject, I quickly understood that I wanted to connect it to Food Studies in some way.  Typically, when food is mentioned in literature and in literary theory, it is through the lens of the culinary dimension of food. While this element is important to pay attention to, I also recognized that this was not the type of lens I wanted to use to explore food in literature.  Eventually, I came across Upton Sinclair’s 1906 novel, The Jungle.  My exposure to this novel’s content and learning about its impact led me towards questioning the overall presence of food industry labor in American literature.  My attention was thus turned to what I consider to be the contemporary version of the concerns Sinclair raises in his novel- exploitation of Latinx/ Chicanx migrant and immigrant labor in food cultivation.  Knowing that I wanted to learn more about this ethnic group’s experiences in labor, I turned to MELUS, which I had learned about last week in class. I was able to find compelling articles published in the past year that I want to read to help build up my knowledge and clarity in this Thesis process.  Additionally, I made sure my key words could apply to the food labor narratives of Sinclair’s time and those of today. By using my key words to help lead my research and making sure I was still within the literary studies discipline, I found the Secondary texts listed above.

Secondary texts aside, compiling a list of literary texts that explore contemporary food labor has proved to be no easy task.  In the 112 years since The Jungle was published, there has not been another literary text about labor in food that has matched the widespread attention and shock that Sinclair’s work managed to capture.  This had come up during a conversation I had with Professor Phillips, who I asked for help in finding a stronger connection between Food Studies and English. This conversation led me to the nonfiction works, Tomatoland (2011) by Barry Estabrook and Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser (2001).  While neither are literary texts, they detail modern labor conditions and exploitations in a manner that is similar to Sinclair, and I would like to connect the strong public reactions these exposé-like books created to the aftermath of The Jungle’s publication.  In terms of literary works detailing contemporary immigrant / migrant labor conditions, I was able find a collection of short stories, Breathing, In Dust, by Tim Hernandez.  Published in 2010, the collection is much more obscure than The Jungle, however from what I have read so far, its narrative is very similar to Sinclair’s in its ability to expose the reality of being an immigrant laborer facing exploitation and harsh working conditions through literature.  Using these texts, writers, and my own emerging ideas, I am hoping to carve out a solid proposal by the end of the semester.

Blog #3

Slave Narrative: Reading List (Quadrese’)

Key Terms: Story-telling, family memoirs, narratives, autobiographical memory, slave narratives, freedom narratives

Secondary Works/ Theoretical Works :

Critical Race Theory

  • Critical Race Theory: A Introduction (Delgado)

Davis, Rocio G. Relative Histories: Mediating History in Asian American Family Memoirs, U of Hawai’i, 2011.

The Art of Slave Narratives: Original Essays in Criticism and Theory, edited by John Sekora and Darwin T. Turner, 1983.

Lovejoy, Paul E. “‘Freedom Narratives’ of Transatlantic Slavery.” Slavery & Abolition, vol 32, 2011.

Rienhart, Nicholas T.‘“I Talk More of The French”Creole Folklore and the Federal Writers’ Project.” Callaloo, 39, 2, 2016:

Spillers, Hortense. “Momma’s Baby, Poppa’s Maybe: An American Grammar Book.”

Zafar, Rafia. We Wear the Mask: African Americans Write Americans Literature, 1760- 1870, New York: U of Columbia, 1991.

Nayar, Sheila J. “The Enslaved Narrative:White Overseers and the Ambiguity of the Story-Told Self in Early African-American Autobiography.” Biography, 39, 2, 2016.

. Edited by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and Charles T. Davis, Oxford: 1990.

PaulGilroy: The Black Atlantic


Callaloo    |  Biography|  Slavery & Abolition: A Journal of Slave and Post-Slave Studies


I knew I was interested in stories and storytelling, specifically how Black people told stories. And this summer I read a work by Zora Neal Hurston and it resonated with me. So I gathered that texts on my list would examine storytelling and slave narratives. Furthermore, my list is comprised of authors, articles, or themes that helps interrogate Black life. Since the basis of the recounted stories were personal stories, I am Callolinterested in the language used to describe the quotidian and that relationship to the narrative structure as a whole. My list  will also, primarily have Black writers and thinkers. Because marginalized communities’ stories have similarities, consideration will be given to non-Black writers of color. Zora Neale Hurston is the only “author” of interest right now; however, I am also interested in the accounts of the  formerly enslaved as dictated to the Worker’s Progress Administration (WPA).


Might the narrative structure of formerly enslaved people’s stories, suggest an appropriate dictation methodology for scribing Black people’s histories?

What are Black stories?

How are Black stories told?

Who has the authority over the narrative(s)?

Does racial/ethnic background inform approaches to dictating?