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Transcript of James Thurber
My Life and Hard Times
-an account of a person's life written by that person
What is an Autobiography?
- Born 1894 – Columbus, Ohio
What Makes us Laugh?
Theories of laughter
Relief theory- The subjects that people joke about are likely to be things that make them feel unsure or uncomfortable, as with questions about religion, politics, sex, and ethnic differences.
"I was only kidding"
Incongruity theory-incongruity between the conceptions that listeners or viewers hold in their minds and what happens to upset their expectations.
Superiority theory- All humor involves a feeling of superiority. Says look down upon the characters, since it presents subjects of lesser virtue than, or “who are inferior to,” the audience.
Literary Devices and Techniques
“Humor is emotional chaos remembered in tranquility."
1) What is an autobiography?
3) Thurber’s writing style
4) What makes us laugh?
5) Theories of laughter
7) Literary devices/other techniques
8) Examine a quote
- Parents: Charles – not especially successful; civil clerk
- Mary – strong willed; eccentric, influence many of his stories.
- Had two brothers- William and Robert
- One eye hit by an arrow in childhood, went blind, eventually in both.
- 1913-1917 - Went to Ohio State University; was not allowed to graduate -> couldn't complete compulsory ROTC course (eye injury)
- Went to Paris, France to work for the American Embassy after college. Returned to Columbus in 1920
- Calm tone and sharp wit
– contrast between aloof/uninterested delivery and frantic events.
- Informal style – focuses on experiences he has had, often digresses or exaggerates
- Writes about human eccentricities and comic quirks
- Use of irony, slapstick humor, metaphors, and similes
-Typically about big/important events that happened in the authors life.
-Usually span the whole life.
My Life in Hard Times
is a parody
- Althea Adams- first wife, met at Scarlet Mask theatre groups.
- Moved to Paris in 1925 with Althea, then New York a year later (
New York Evening Post
- Althea and Thurber had a daughter Rosemary, born in 1931
- He and his 2nd wife moved to Connecticut after they married
- Divorced 1935; Married Helen Wismer later that year
- 1940 Thurber and Elliot Nugent, wrote the Broadway hit– The Male Animal.
What makes us laugh is what we personally find humorous:
- Ch. 1, pg 8- The Night the Bed Fell
- Ch. 3, pg 21, 35, 36- The Day the Dam Broke
- Ch 6, pg 46- A Sequence of Servants
The chapters in this autobiography follow this quote. For example, chapter 8 is full of slapstick, hyperbole, sarcasm, and irony. However, at the end of the chapter, he says its not a big deal anymore, "I don't think about it much anymore" (Thurber, 74).
-Ch. 8, pg 68- University Days
-Ch. 9- Draft Board Nights
-Ch 9- Draft Board Nights
"Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy." Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. N.p., n.d. Web. 03 Nov. 2014. <http://www.iep.utm.edu/humor/>.
"Thurber House: Where Laughter, Learning and Literature Meet." Thurber House. N.p., n.d. Web. 03 Nov. 2014. <http://www.thurberhouse.org/james-thurber.html>.
"Humor - Incongruity Theory." - Jokes, Freud, Surprise, and People. N.p., n.d. Web. 03 Nov. 2014. <http://science.jrank.org/pages/9716/Humor-Incongruity-Theory.html>.
"Humor - Release Or Relief Theory." - People, Tension, Jokes, and Joke. N.p., n.d. Web. 03 Nov. 2014. <http://science.jrank.org/pages/9714/Humor-Release-or-Relief-Theory.html>.
- Ch. 7- The Dog That Bit People
- Ch. 2- The Car We Had to Push: Situational
- Ch. 3- The Day the Dam Broke: Dramatic
- Ch. 5, pg 41- More Alarms at Night: Dramatic Irony-Ch. 4 pg. 32, 38 The Night the Ghost Got In.
Use of Irony, Slapstick, Sarcasm, Metaphors and Similes.
Born 1894 – Columbus, Ohio
His calm tone and aloof/uninterested delivery contrast the frantic events.
Often Focused on human eccentricities and oddities
Went to Ohio State University
Wrote the Broadway hit "The Male Animal"
Died in 1961