Building The Old Joke Archive

Nicholson, Bob and Hall, Mark (2021). Building The Old Joke Archive. In: Derrin, Daniel and Burrows, Hannah eds. The Palgrave Handbook of Humour, History, and Methodology. London: Palgrave Macmillan, (In press).


In 1892, the writer Sarah Butler Wister went before the American people and made a heartfelt ‘Plea for Seriousness’. In an article for the Atlantic Monthly, she complained that her countrymen had developed an unhealthy obsession with humour. The greatest vice of the age, she argued, was a ‘constant craving for the ludicrous’ and an incessant desire to make ‘a joke of everything’. Worst of all, it was the ‘dismal jocosity’ of the period’s published humour that troubled her most

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