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International Journal of Humor Research

Editor-in-Chief: Ford, Thomas E.

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Volume 17, Issue 4 (Sep 2004)


Humor enhancers in the study of humorous literature

Katrina Triezenberg
  • Purdue University.
Published Online: 2005-07-27 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/humr.2004.17.4.411


This paper examines the treatment of literary humor. Attardo has extended the SSTH/GTVH (Raskin 1985; Attardo and Raskin 1991) to longer humorous literary texts, not simply sequences of jokes (Attardo 2001; Attardo et al. 2002). While the GTVH knowledge resources may be the necessary conditions for the presence of textual humor, I maintain that they are insufficient to completely describe the humor of any literary text. Literary texts do have the formal properties of all texts, but they are also art, and as such resist purely formal interpretation and description. To reduce literary art to linguistic formalisms would be deeply disturbing; therefore, the linguistic method should, at a certain point in the analysis, be supplemented by the literary method. This assertion is supported by the discovery of humor enhancers in humorous texts, which condition the reader for humor reception, thus enhancing humor while containing no discernible script opposition. These enhancers are both outside of Raskin's formal description of humor and Attardo's formal description of textual content. Subscribing to Raskin's theory of limited applications and recognizing Attardo's ability to push the GTVH into literary analysis, I suggest that literary humor is best treated by its own theory and propose the enhancers as its components.

Keywords: Linguistics; literature; literary studies; literary theory; philology; semantics; script opposition; humor; humor theory; SSTH; GTVH

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Published Online: 2005-07-27

Published in Print: 2004-09-23

Citation Information: Humor - International Journal of Humor Research, ISSN (Online) 1613-3722, ISSN (Print) 0933-1719, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/humr.2004.17.4.411. Export Citation

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