Abstracts of RSACS XLIII International Conference

American Humor and Satire: Functions and Forms
December 7-9, 2017

December 7, Thursday, 12.00 Lecture Hall 201
Plenary Opening Session

1. Professor Yassen Zassoursky
RSACS President, President of Journalism Department,
Lomonosov Moscow State University, Russia

Greetings to the Conference participants

2. Professor Irwin Weil
Northwestern University
Evanston IL, USA
From Mark Twain to Jokes over the Hot Stove – a stroll through American Humor

Mark Twain had a profound notion about the irregularities, disparities, and laughable nature of American Life, Religion, and Pretensions.

American anecdotes, many of them in the Twain tradition, know how to send up our national and personal pretensions: from politics to religion, from medicine to psychiatry, from legal life to the after-life in both heaven and hell.

3. Professor Pavel Balditsyn
Journalism Department
Lomonosov Moscow State University, Russia
Traditions of American Humor from Mark Twain to Woody Allen and Jon Stewart:  Continuity and Changes

Initially there were two extreme trends in the American humor from the times of Benjamin Franklin: the first is pursuit of established and true facts and drive for serious social and moral thought and criticism; the second is exuberant fantasy and wild grotesque imagery in tall tales of the frontier and romantic extravaganzas of Washington Irving and Edgar Poe. Mark Twain was the perfect master of both extremes and combined them in his works: he did it in a short letter on St. Patrick; he wrote at the same time phantasy of a young Satan making miracles and political pamphlets versus tyranny, chauvinism, and imperialism. Therefore, he was generally recognized as the maker of the American comic tradition.
The American culture developed as open and responsive to many world traditions, and its character was plural and complementary from the beginning of the 19th century. Mark Twain followed not only Shakespeare and Franklin but also Cervantes and Voltaire, he knew his direct precursors – tall tales and works of literary clowns of the South-West. In the age of multiculturalism the American humor absorbed new elements especially of Afro-American and Jewish laughter notably in cinema, and stand-up comedy in the halls and on TV.
Staginess and visual appeal were important features of the American humor from the times of Mark Twain: comic speech was mainly vernacular and used extralinguistic means – facial expression, gestures, tone, intonation, and persona at last. This drift increased in the last century when humor expanded into new visual arts – cinema and TV , performed in media culture with its collective authorship and industrial creation. Artemus Ward and Mark Twain did their work single-handed, Woody Allen and Jon Stewart work in groups of coworkers. For example, Jon Stewart made his satirical news program The Daily Show with more than 30 co-authors. It is impossible to host a comic show 4 days a week and 42 weeks in a year otherwise.
Polyphony and dialogism are the main patterns of fiction and humor of Mark Twain and contemporary American comic writers and showmen. They try to debate and travesty the traditional and authoritative discourse. Limits of tolerance changed greatly from the times of Mark Twain, but the burden of humor remains as ever: laughter breaks social rules and moral standards. Its backbone is to say the truth and reject all lies in contemporary society under any circumstances.

Section 1: Journalism (coordinator Dr. Yuliya Balashova, Saint-Petersburg State University, Russia)

1. Yuliya Balashova
Saint-Petersburg State University, Russia
Historical Dynamics of the American Almanacs Development in Global Context

Especially important for intercultural communications are those media which are not compromised by propaganda or ideological battles. The almanac as a type of publication is this kind of media. Historically, almanacs were widespread in the USA, as in many countries in Europe and Asia. A comparison of the historical path of the almanac’s development in the United States with other countries gives reason to make a conclusion about the particular pragmatism of the American culture in the whole. This feature manifestation is the almanacs satirical variety development in the United States.

2. S.V. Kanashina
MGIMO, Moscow, Russia
Internet Meme as a Modern Comic Genre in the USA

The development of information technologies and the emergence of the Internet have led to the evolution of traditional comic genres in the USA. A unique cultural phenomenon – internet meme – appeared within American internet communication 15 years ago (see picture 1). Broadly speaking the internet meme is an internet communication phenomenon consisting of verbal (textual) and non-verbal (visual) components and having a special square design. It is typical of internet memes to be humorous, topical, expressive, and the humor is often original and goes beyond the bounds of all the conventions. To convey humor the authors of internet memes use different means, for example, pun, allusion, grotesque, absurd. Different real facts of American life, famous people, events of social importance are laughed at in internet memes. Thus the internet meme can be regarded as a modern comic genre in the USA which keeps the tradition of independent and authentic American humor.

3. Irina Arkhangelskaya
Higher School of Economics -Nizhny Novgorod, Russia
Political Discourse of the US Late Night Comedy Shows of the 2000-2010s

The US Late Night Comedy Shows give politicians opportunities to present their programs, strengthen the existing image, or ruin a negative stereotype. TV humor-shows make it possible to reach the audiences that are not much aware of politics, young people being among them.
The role of Comedy Central‘s projects: The Daily Show with Jon Stewart (2000 – 2015) and The Daily Show with Trevor Noah (2015 – present), in forming the political agenda are being analyzed in the report.
The style, themes, approaches to picking up guests and interviewing them of The Daily Shows’ are compared with those in The Late Show with David Letterman (2000 – 2015) and The Tonight Show with David Leno (2000 – 2014).

4. Valery Terin
MGIMO University, Moscow, Russia
Global Manager Trump: humor by means of electronic communications

U.S. President Donald Trump, as well as his opponents, resort to humor. But they happen to make it differently. As to those who criticize Trump in this or that way, some of them dislike his unpredictability as well as his unwillingness to treat America’s allies on an equal footing. With regard to the internal scenery, Trump’s attitude is regularly depicted as a right-wing bias.
With this in mind, while taking into account those who treat him favorably nevertheless, we can pay attention to the ground of his polemics as being of key importance for singling out those who basically share his approach to the world at large, as it is and as it should be principally understood and run (birds of a feather flock together).
To begin with, one look at Donald Trump’s numerous tweets as a multifunctional undertaking corresponding to the electronic communication nature of world politics. Its electronic simultaneity presumes quite definite managerial practices as well as its humoristic repercussions with regard to those who still prefer the reasoning of the Gutenberg Galaxy nature.
In other words, the humoristic effect of the global village circus reveals itself to the extent of Trump being able to demonstrate to the public at large the inadequacy of his opponents as that of linearly expressed argumentation in the electronic environment with its simultaneity impetus.

5. Svetlana Orekhova-Tibbits
Tibbits Historical Foundation/Tibbits News Service
Washington, DC, USA
American Political Humor in Trump Era

6. Elena Pavlova,

Department of Foreign Languages and Area Studies, Lomonosov Moscow State University, Russia

Irony and sarcasm in the modern domestic political discourse of the United States

Discursive practices of domestic political discourse in the USA have undergone significant changes recently. Since the appearance of Donald Trump in the presidential campaign till nowadays, indignity and mockery of political opponents, irony and sarcasm have become the main feature of discursive practices of debates both on the part of Trump and his opponents. A comparison of modern domestic political discourse with the discourse of Monicagate showed that moderate style and political correctness, typical for the official political discourse of the previous decades, are passing away. Widespread use of irony and sarcasm in political discourse reflects the aggravation of the domestic political struggle in the USA.

7. Nikolai Zykov
Lomonosov Moscow State University, Russia
Humor and Satire in the Literary Programs of the Voice of America

Humor and satire in the programs of the Voice of America were most often heard in the literary programs of the oldest international broadcaster in the United States, as well as in the reviews of the American press. This is both about American humor, and about the humor of Russian-speaking emigrant writers. Humor served as a decoration of radio programs, was a reflection of the worldly wisdom of the American people. Listeners have long remembered these programs.

8. Yekaterina Zagvozdkina
Journalism Department
Lomonosov Moscow State University, Russia
Irony as a Means of Creating the Beat Generation Image (on stories in LIFE, TIME and New York Times)

The Beat Generation was a prominent literature movement and crucial cultural phenomenon in the 1950s America, where it embodied the transition from the postwar era to the tumultuous sixties period. At the end of the 1950s – the beginning of the 1960s the Beats were criticized by the media for their deviant lifestyle (declining to work, contempt to the authorities, and friendship with black people, drug usage and free love). With the content analyses of the publications on the Beat Generation, we determined the main evaluative characteristics of the “only rebels around”, amid them the irony had a significant place. For instance, in LIFE magazine we found irony in 34 out of 125 news and stories on the Beats, published in 1958-1962, in TIME magazine – in 7 out of 35, in the New York Times – in 34 out of 329 texts. Thus, we believe that irony is a core means of creating the negative image of the described phenomenon in media and our report as a case study can be used to describe its usage in press

9. Karine Chobanyan
Journalism Department
Lomonosov Moscow State University, Russia
“RidicuList” Segment аs аn Example of Comical Element in American Broadcast News

American quality broadcast journalism is usually found within evening news on major networks (NBC, ABC, CBS) and 24-hour news channels (CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, HLN). Working under tough competition, they are all influenced by infotainment, and humor becomes one of the ways to boost ratings and get the viewer’s attention – this is especially true for cable channels.
Let’s take as an example “RidicuList” segment, which airs on CNN’s “Anderson Cooper 360°” (with simulcast on CNN International). The anchor’s presentation manner allows unrestricted behavior, adlibbing, spontaneous dialogue with his colleagues in the newsroom, and even overpowering giggles which the anchor fails to control.
Lexically, stylistically, morphologically and syntactically the language of this segment is very close to colloquial.
The subjects are usually based on the events with a clear and current news peg. But the main goal is to show the absurd and ridiculous side of the situation. Real facts and heroes are combined with an open position of the author, who uses irony, sarcasm and grotesque.
The genre analysis shows that this segment is right in between the news and satire, combining the features of topical satire and news tell. We are proposing to consider this form innovational and call it “news satire”.

Section 2: American Culture of the 17-19th Centuries
(coordinator Professor Elvira Osipova elvira.osipova@mail.ru Saint-Petersburg, Russia)

1. Elena Lioznova
School of Public Administration
Lomonosov Moscow State University, Russia

The Fables of Cotton Mather: Political Satire of New England at the end of the 17th century
The Glorious Revolution became a turning point in the history of England and its colonies. The most significant changes took place in Massachusetts. The new charter of 1691 transformed not only its political structure but also its religious policy, legitimizing the principle of religious tolerance. In new political and socio-economic situation, the indisputable authority of Puritan ministers was challenged. The political fables of Cotton Mather include four pieces, in which he points out the advantages of the new political charter of 1691, approves the appointment of William Phips and justifies Increase Mather’s work during his diplomatic mission in London. Although these political fables were not published in Cotton Mather’s lifetime, their handwritten copies were quite popular in 1692. Discussing important current events Cotton Mather used allegorical images of different animals and ancient gods to talk about real historical personages.

2. Irina Y. Khruleva
History Department
Lomonosov Moscow State University, Russia

George Whitefield, the Religious Leader of the first Great Awakening, as an object of American Colonial Satire
The First Great Awakening was a powerful religious movement that swept across all British colonies in North America and coincided with the Enlightenment. It had a profound effect on all aspects of colonial life, greatly affecting religion, politics, and ideology. There have been numerous books devoted to the religious ideas, the way of preaching and various talents of Whitefield, the famous leader of the Great Awakening, yet no works have been published about caricatures and satirical comments on Whitefield, his unique way of preaching and extremely emotional response from colonial crowds which gathered to hear the sermons of the “greatest celebrity” of the British Atlantic world.

3. Anna Dulina
Philological Department,
Lomonosov Moscow State University, Russia
The Role of Laughter in Cock-A-Doodle-Doo! by Herman Melville

Many stereotypes have been formed about Herman Melville’s short story Cock-A-Doodle-Doo! (1853). It is more often regarded either as one of his weakest works or just as a satirical one. The plot, which seems to be a ribald joke, and its presumably sexual subtext made many scholars reduce their analysis to just these two issues; as a result this short story is either represented as a bad joke, or a different psychoanalytic interpretation is given. Others, however, ignored this aspect and interpreted the story exclusively as a serious satire on the philosophy of transcendentalism. Some modern scholars view the narrator of Cock-A-Doodle-Doo! as one who is suffering from a bipolar disorder. But even these radical interpretations imply that laughter (at the writer’s intellectual opponents, at the narrator or with him) is an important component of the poetics of the story. In my view, the laughter in Cock-A-Doodle-Doo! is indicative of a threat that can’t be overcome.
It is by analyzing the way the heroes laugh, that we can adequately interpret the story, thus placing it alongside with other works of Herman Melville.

4. Astashenkov I.M.
RAS Gorky Institute of World Literature, Moscow, Russia
Comic Absurdity and its Role in Mark Twain’s Early Short Stories

In his early short stories Mark Twain often shows absurd and comic situations, which could hardly have happened in the society of his time. We need to understand that the author used such comic absurdity intentionally, since his short stories were based on the tall tale – and yarn as its variety. Twain conceals the unreal behind realistic details, smoothing it with the help of humor, thus following the folklore tradition. There are different varieties of the comic (satire, humor, irony, etc.) and it is commonly believed that Mark Twain’s stories are satiric. However, the short stories that are based on the folklore tradition are humorous rather than satiric; the author does not want to ridicule someone else’s idea or existing things, he refers to them positively.

5. Boris Махimov
Journalism Department,
Lomonosov Moscow State University, Russia
Mark Twain’s Humor on the Background of the Victorian Tradition: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn versus Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K. Jerome

My purpose is to compare two outstanding humoristic narratives, both published in the 1880s, both encompassing similar genre components (travelogue, chronicles, feuilleton, adventure novel). The originality of American humor becomes distinct on the background of the Victorian tradition. Primarily, I will focus on comically degraded subjects, and, apart from that, on various discordances that produce a comic effect.

6. Elena Gladkikh
Transbaikal State University, Chita, Russia
Irony as a Way of Creating the Image of a “Seeker of Fortune” in Francis Bret Hart’s Cycle of Californian Short Stories

The paper addresses the role and place of irony in the depiction of characters in Bret Harte’s cycle of Californian short stories. Emphasis will be made on the analysis of stories about life in the gold mines. Irony is shown to be a way to express the author’s assessment of the individual and society in California of the 1860s.

Round Table Discussion: Henry Thoreau’s Bicentennial

(coordinator Professor Elvira Osipova elvira.osipova@mail.ru St.Petersburg State University)

1. Elvira Osipova
St.Petersburg State University, Russia
The Legacy of Henry David Thoreau in the XX century

As a tribute to Henry Thoreau on his bicentenary, the paper focusses on the “living thoughts” (Th.Dreiser) of the great American author. His ideas of civil disobedience, deliberate poverty – as means of moral perfection, influenced such writers as Th.Wilder and Kurt Vonnegut, Ray Bradbury and Ken Kesey. The descriptions of nature in the prose of Hemingway and Salinger, Annie Dillard betray the influence of Thoreau’s “Walden”. His thoughts inspired such different authors as Henry Miller, Saul Bellow, and John Gardner. The philosophical tradition expounded by Thoreau can be traced in the later works of Rudofo Anaya.

2. Polovinkina Olga
Russian State University of Humanities, Moscow, Russia
«The Thinking Body» in H.D. Thoreau’s Poetry

Today critics often speak of body representation in H.D. Thoreau’s works as of “thoroughly intellectual abstractions” (W.M. Etter). R.W. Emerson by no chance focused on Thoreau’s body in his literary portrait of Thoreau. Thoreau considered the dominance of reason over bodily life to be a kind of flaw; from his point of view, the harmony with the world suggests one life for mind and body, “thinking body”. In his poetry this idea is expressed in the image of steps. Thoreau put together steps and music: sounds of music evokes in the memory «the boyant step», when his lyrical hero «trod lightly as on clouds». The rhythm of steps and the musical rhythm of thinking are combined in one, thinking process being united with bodily functions. His idea of unity is very close to the “body problem” as it was defined by the Western thought from the early 20th century.

3. Evgenya Frolova
Dobrolyubov Nizhny Novgorod State Linguistic University, Russia
Thoreau and Whitman

The paper addresses the problem of Walt Whitman’s poetic phenomenon, which was shaped partly by the influence of transcendentaslists’ ideas and the poetics of Henry Thoreau. Whitman’s method of collecting material for his famous book will be also analyzed. It had much in common with Thoreau’s method of “contemplation and observation”. The paper will also consider the specifics of autobiographical writing in the Song of Myself and Walden.

4. Galina Kovalenko
Russian State Institute of Performing Arts, Saint-Petersburg, Russia
Henry Thoreau’s Ideas in Edward Albee’s drama (The Goat or, Who is Sylvia?)

The play is a parable of losses to which civilization leads and at the same time is a commentary on private life, which is a projection of spiritual values. The destruction of nature destroys these values. The protagonist of the play realized that he had to return back to nature. This is one of Thoreau’s philosophical ideas. He believed that “what in other men is religion is in me love of nature”.

Section3:  Literature and Culture of the USA in the 20th-21st centuries

and American Drama Round Table

(coordinator Professor Natalya Vysotska  literatavysotska@gmail.com  Kiyev, Ukraine)

1.George Shaduri
International Black Sea University, Tbilisi, Georgia
The Phenomenon of Limerick as Part of American Humor Culture

• Being originally a part of British culture, Limerick matched well the American sense of humor as evidenced by the first publications at the end of the Civil War of 1861-65;
• Limerick was accepted not only by general public (including newspapers), but also by such intellectuals as Ambrose Bierce, Artemus Ward, and Mark Twain, whose literary language radically differed from that associated with Genteel Tradition;
• Later, on American soil, Limerick became most famous in its ribald (vulgar) form on the grounds of the following traditions:
 Strong traditions of humor of the Frontier;
 Frivolous literary traditions of the Gilded Age (the last quarter of the 19th C.);
 Modernist spirit of the Jazz Age (1920s)
It is the ribald limerick that has become the greatest contribution of American humor culture to limerick poetry.

2. Kirill Ignatov
Lomonosov Moscow State University, Russia
The Poetry of Ogden Nash: Between Horse Sense and Horse Laughter

Ogden Nash (1902–1971), a renowned poet of humorous and satiric verse of the first half of the 20th century, was called in the USA the ‘poet laureate of light verse.’ He devised and masterfully used his idiosyncratic poetic form: long lines in the poems written in different meters, but paired by internal rhythm and unexpected rhyme, ubiquitous eye-rhyme, distorted spelling, and a wide use of puns. Nevertheless, by the beginning of the 21st century his popularity had waned and the readership was dwindling. His texts were part and parcel of absurd poetry of the 20th century, and in it he was an heir to nonsense poetry. However, while the poems of Edward Lear, Hilaire Belloc and Lewis Carroll were travelling from nursery to study, Nash’s poems got stuck in the nursery (at best). By analysing stylistic scope and the artistic content of the poems written by Nash, the talk focuses on the ways the author achieves comic effect in his texts.

3. Natalia Serzhant
BSPU, Minsk, Belarus
Irony as a Form of Tragic Vision in Henry Miller’s Fiction

The paper explores the artistic worldview in Henry Miller’s fiction (Tropic of Cancer, 1934, Sexus, 1946).
The autobiographical character in the novels is a rebel of an unusual kind. He exists in a world where the semantic relationship between the desired and the real is lost, he feels cramped in social and cultural conditions, and therefore he chooses confrontation in the form of “mad state of decline”. His awareness of unfulfilled life and failure causes his tragic perception of the world and himself in it. Irony is the only way for him to survive; it helps to reduce tragedy and inspires optimism which is always present in Miller’s texts.

4. Anna Gaganovа
Сentre fоr Intensive Technologies in Education, Moscow, Russia
Satirical Techniques of Creating the Duality of a Literary Character in Robert Sylvester’s Novel The Second Oldest Profession

The paper analyzes the specifics of creating literary portraits of characters in Robert Sylvester’s novel The Second Oldest Profession. The paper argues that the novel’s leading character – the journalist and newspaperman Ned Gorse – is depicted in his duality. The writer emphasizes the antagonism between “professional” and “universal” motives in the journalist’s behavior, as well as the contradiction between his thoughts and actions.
Professional image of a successful journalist Ned Gorse is created by means of satirical techniques, expressive language, and grotesque. For delineating Gorse’s “non-professional” or “universal” image satirical techniques are not used.
A parallel can be drawn here with Sergei Dovlatov’s Compromises, where satirical techniques for creating a literary portrait reach a higher level of concentration and saturation. In this case, the characters lack “non-professional” or “universal” selves. Perhaps, this accounts for the work’s genre specificity. It can be argued that the Compromises do not offer psychologically profound literary characters presenting solely their “professional” portraits.
At the same time, The Second Oldest Profession depicts a conflict between the two facets of the personality. The struggle of ethical and “newspaper” priorities and values predicates the characters’ unpredictable behaviors. The conflict between “actions of a journalist” and “human actions” addresses such ethical categories as “conscience”, “friendship”, and “generosity” and determines the plot line of personal choice – the novel’s driving force.

5. Ольга Любимская
Тюменский государственный университет, Россия
Ирония как форма молчания в творчестве Дж. Д. Сэлинджера

Настоящее исследование выявляет своеобразие комического в романе «Над пропастью во ржи» (The Catcher in the Rye, 1951) и некоторых рассказах Дж. Д. Сэлинджера как составного компонента его поэтики молчания. Иронические реплики и жесты героя рассматриваются, с одной стороны, в качестве аналога, особого рода замены молчания, и с другой – как одно из немногих средств коммуникации. Через иронический жест герой демонстрирует свой бессильный протест против господствующего рационализма в обществе, выражает глубоко спрятанное «Я» – свое человеческое иррациональное начало. В диалогических фрагментах ирония играет роль обличения и обнуления скрытых, ложных амбиций собеседника, а также замещения подлинного чувства и мысли героя, тщательно замалчиваемого им.

Olga Lyubimskaya
Tyumen State University, Russia
Irony as a Form of Silence in J. D. Salinger’s Works

The present paper reveals specific features of the “comic” in the novel The Catcher in the Rye (1951) and some short stories by J. D. Salinger as an integral component of his poetics of silence. The characters’ ironic retorts and gestures are considered, on the one hand, as an analogue or a special kind of substitution for silence, and, on the other hand, as one of the few means of communication. Due to ironic gesture a character demonstrates his powerless opposition to the dominant rationalism in society, expresses his deeply hidden personal self – his human irrationality. In the dialogue fragments the irony performs the function of exposing and nullifying the interlocutor’s latent false ambitions, but its main goal is the substitution of a character’s genuine feelings and thoughts which he thoroughly tries to suppress.

6. Tatyana Kamarovskaya
Maxim Tank Belarus State Pedagogical University, Minsk, Belarus
The Ironic Representation of History in Gore Vidal’s Novels Burr, 1876, and Lincoln

Gore Vidal finds in the Past the germ of deep contradictions peculiar to the U.S. social and political system, the tendency to restrict democracy, and it leads him to de-bunk this Past in the novels Burr and 1876. His main device in depicting historical events and characters is satire. But Lincoln differs from the above-mentioned novels in its treatment of the main character. Gore Vidal appreciates Lincoln for his devotion to the interests of the country and his readiness to sacrifice himself for its rescue. Lincoln, according to
Vidal, marvelously suited the needs of the country, and so could save it. That’s why his character is the only positive one among the portraits of politicians created by Vidal. Bitter irony, fierce satire, and sarcasm – the most widely used stylistic devices applied by Vidal in his creation of political leaders – are substituted in representing Lincoln by mild humor testifying to the author’s fondness of his protagonist and sympathy to him.

7. Natalia Kuznetsova,
Journalism Department
Lomonosov Moscow State University, Russia
Image of Jester in John Updike’s novels The Centaur and The Witches of Eastwick

In M. M. Bakhtin’s opinion, the ambivalent character of “ridiculous man” is embodied in the image of the jester, who is the main character in carnival literature. The jester characters figure most obviously in the two novels by the American author John Updike: The Centaur and The Witches of Eastwick. The two characters endowed with features of jester, which are basically opposite, will be analyzed in this paper: the first one is George Caldwell (The Centaur) who also personifies Jesus Christ, and the second one is “the devil” Daryl Van Horne (The Witches of Eastwick).

8. Alla Nikulina
M. Akmullah Bashkir State Pedagogical University, Ufa, Russia
‘Painting the Entire World Anew’: Irony and Postirony in David Markson’s
Wittgenstein’s Mistress

David Markson’s novel Wittgenstein’s Mistress (1988) develops the postmodern ironic tradition and strives to overcome it at the same time. The irony in the novel can be traced not only at the stylistic level but at the conceptual one as well, i.e. in the formal structuring of the text, characterizing its genre, creating the intentional situation of epistemological doubt, breaking logical connections, eclectic combining of various artistic elements. But the peculiarity of the novel lies in the fact that its final creative goal appears to be bigger than mere destruction of norms and rules in a postmodern manner or satirizing Wittgenstein’s stiff logocentrism. The novel’s appeal for the reader has to do with sudden shifts from the trifling and grotesque to the grave and sincere, and as a result the postmodern playfulness gives way to a profound philosophical investigation of human nature and the meaning of existence. The elements that run contrary to the postmodern interpretation of the novel include the focus on the individual, the detailed psychological analysis, sincere emotional impact on the reader, posing big metaphysical questions and trying to find universal answers to them. It makes D. Markson’s novel a forerunner of the post-ironic / post-postmodern / metamodern tradition in the Western literature at the turn of the 21st century.

9. Alexandra Strukova, Olga Karasik,
Kazan Federal University , Russia

Michael Chabon’s Novels: from Irony to Sarcasm
Michael Chabon is a modern American writer, the Pulitzer Prize winner, the author
of Wonder Boys (1995), The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay (2000), The Yiddish Policemen’s Union (2007), Moonglow (2016), etc. His fiction lingers on the border between popular and serious literature. We are going to analyze the specific features of Chabon’s humor, and observe the development of comic elements in his novels. We plan to follow the transformation of irony into sarcasm in the author’s depiction of American realities of the 20th and 21st century, history, and national stereotypes. Irony and sarcasm are the main ways of understanding the reality for the author, and his main methods of presenting this reality. They become a part of his postmodern play with readers when he creates his novels, which are close to a farce.

10. Lyubov Pervushina
Minsk State Linguistic University, Belarus
Satirical Mood in Steve Tesich’s Works: Artistic Experiments by American Émigré Writer

Satirical mood is an important characteristic of the works authored by Steve Tesich (1942 – 1996) – a prominent American immigrant playwright, novelist, screenwriter and essayist of Serbian origin. He was awarded literary prizes for his experimental novels and plays which reveal his satiric perception of the world. Using parody and irony, he exposes contradictions of the globalized world and rethinks contemporary art, with its commercialization and standardization of tastes in his bitterly satiric picaresque novel Karoo (1998, 2004, with the introduction by E.L. Doctorow). Tesich uses grotesque and absurd episodes to reconstruct the atmosphere of “post-Hollywood disappointment and the moral decline of society”. The play Art and Lesure and the novel Karoo show how the overproduction of meaningless literary works, movies and plays create “false” images and ideas which affect people’s consciousness and influence their life.
American Drama Round Table
1. Natalia Vysotska,
Kyiv National Linguistic University, Ukraine
Americanizing Shakespeare’s Humor: the Case of Cole Porter’s Kiss me, Kate

Cole Porter’s 1948 musical (libretto by Bella and Sam Spewacks) based on William Shakespeare’s early comedy The Taming of the Shrew turned out the composer’s masterpiece and the first play to win the Tony award for musical theater. Arguably, the authors’ interest in a dramatic piece with pronounced gender motifs lying at its core might have been predicated, alongside with other factors, upon the new situation arisen by that time in the United States. During World War II many American women were obliged to enter the workforce thus undertaking functions in social production previously performed almost exclusively by men. As a result, the societal demand (most likely, not consciously, but intuitively perceived by the composer and the dramatists), on the one hand, called for the recognition of the altered status of women in America, while, on the other, was meant to induce women through a mild playful medium to get back to their more traditional roles as wives and mothers. It is my belief that the strategies deployed by the authors in order to Americanize the original techniques aimed at creating comic effect include the following:
1. Structurally, the authors resort to multiplying the principle of multilayered stage text hinted at by Shakespeare. In addition to the main plot line – staging a musical based on The Taming of the Shrew by the acting company at the Baltimore Ford theater, the story is split into even more dramatic levels (e.g., the “performance within the performance” features itinerant Italian actors), up to extra-textual reconciliation of the two coauthoring playwrights that duplicates the play’s collision. Accordingly, there are more metaleptic transitions between textual levels (“reality” vs. “acting”) enhancing the humorous effect.
2. Strategies long tested within the framework of the age-old tradition of travestying Shakespeare’s works in the US are made ample use of. These include decontextualizing the original’s semantic units followed by their trivialization, as well as imbuing the text and the plot with American life features (gangsters, gambling, baseball, Coke etc.) and period markers abundantly present in the piece’s language.
3. Concurrently, Porter’s idiosyncratic style tinted by his immersion into European cultural landscape is manifested in musical numbers’ lavish intertextuality. They contain not solely Shakespearean allusions, but also numerous nods towards West European “high culture” as a whole, even though played in a humorous key.
To sum up, drawing upon rich resources of both conventional and individual forms of comic expression, Cole Porter and the Spewacks succeeded in adapting Shakespeare’s comedy to new temporal and spatial conditions.

2. Maxim Gudkov
Saint Petersburg State University,
Russian State Institute of Performing Arts, Russia

American Version of The Good Soldier Švejk:
Production of Paul Green’s Johnny Johnson in the Group Theatre (1936)

While Europe is enveloped in fascism and military tension, the first anti-war musical in the history of American theatre appears across the ocean – Johnny Johnson. The production united the efforts of the playwright Paul Green, the composer Kurt Weill, and the director Lee Strasberg, becoming one of the most important works of the legendary Group Theatre in New York City. Comedy, satire, tragedy, as well as music and vocals were mixed in a daring and innovative way to reveal the madness and absurdity of war.

3. Yulia Kleiman
Russian State Institute of Performing Arts,
Saint-Petersburg, Russia
The Wooster Group: Making Fun of «Sacred Monsters»

The Wooster Group company was formed by Elizabeth LeCompte inside the Performance Group – one of most famous companies of the Sixties, and it has retained the reputation of provocateurs and rebels for forty years. The generation of the Sixties was laughing at the falsity of social institutions, but The Wooster Group is laughing at the Sixties’ idealism as well. Kitsch, post-modernist irony and violation of all rules of political correctness are the instruments used by Elizabeth LeCompte for deconstructing texts that are “sacred” for the American stage. Plays by Arthur Miller and Eugene O’Neill are among them. Comedy techniques breaking the traditional perception of the classics not only uncover unexpected messages in the plays, but also highlight the pain spots of contemporary society.

Section 4: Ethnic Components of American Culture
(coordinators Dr Oksana Danchevskaya odanchevskaya@gmail.com and Dr. Andrew Wiget Andrew.Wiget@gmail.com )

1. Oksana Danchevskaya
Moscow State Pedagogical University, Russia

American Indian Humor

Common stereotypes portray North American Indians as reserved, unsmiling and strict, but few know how much they like to joke in real life – on themselves, over historical events, over their problems… A closer acquaintance with the jokes and the widespread tradition of banter sometimes can reveal more in-depth information about American Indian cultures than the study of classical sources.

2. Gleb Aleksandrov
Moscow, Russia
A Joke, a Satire, a Warning: Colonial Images in the XVIIth Century English Entertainment and Their Impact on American Humor

Images of colonies and their native peoples appeared frequently in the XVIIth century English entertainment. They featured most frequently in plays and court masques. The images themselves were relatively diverse and served a number of purposes – from adding a humorous touch to the work to symbolizing the growing British colonial power to warning about the dangers of “savagery” and the loss of civility. The article examines the variety, functions and specifics of those images, as well as their importance as the origin point of many of the “humorous” stereotypes subtly permeating the American humor until the last few decades.

3. Tatiana Voronchenko
Transbaikal State University, Chita, Russia
Laughter in Chicano everyday culture: a response to Gustavo Arellano’s Ask a Mexican! (2008)

The book of famous Californian journalist Gustavo Arellano Ask a Mexican! (2008) has a form of dialogue with a reader and bases upon his working experience at Orange County Weekly, where he has a column Ask a Mexican!. The author gives an original humorous perspective on various areas of Chicano lifestyle: language, culture, food, music, fashion, etc. Reflection on the book provides new insights into peculiar characteristics of Chicano humour, which are important for understanding the national character.

4. Ekaterina Fyodorova
Transbaikal State University, Chita, Russia
Artistic devices for creating comic effect in Carlos Morton’s play Rancho Hollywood (1983)

A plot of Chicano playwright Carlos Morton’s play Rancho Hollywood (1983) refers to historical events of mid-19th century when Californian lands had brought into the U.S. control. The prototypes of main characters are real historical figures. The author focuses on mockery of ethnic stereotypes by using a wide range of artistic devices predominantly sarcasm. The paper examines the special nature of Carlos Morton’s humour, who fixates on deep philosophical and political issues through laughter.

5. M.I. Baranova
Linguistics University of Nizhny Novgorod, Nizhny Novgorod, Russia
Satirical Discourse of the Сhicanos in Klail City by Rolando Hinojosa

Mexican-American and Anglo-American worlds, as well as their cultural confrontations and cross-cultural enrichment, are central to the novels of a chicano writer Rolando Hinojosa. In his works Mexican-American problems are dealt with through inner and outer conflicts of the chicano personages whose humor is an integral part of their character. The paper discusses how the satirical discourse of the chicanos helps to understand the Mexican-American problems of the novel Klail City (1987).

6. I. M. Udler
Chelyabinsk State University, Russia
Folklore Basic of Comic in the Works of Frederick Douglass

In the classic Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave. Written by Himself, in the autobiographical prose, journalism, oratory Frederick Douglass, with his and his people’s wonderful sense of humor, has used the comic, which had a folklore African and African American basic. Forms of comic in his works: 1) ”mocking laughter” (V. Y. Propp) over the slaveholders and slave-drivers, the Church and religion in the service of slave system, the ideology of slavery and racism; 2) ‘laughter through tears”, “laughing-to-keep-from-crying”, multi-valued, ambivalent tone of musical folklore, trope of signifyin’ in the representation of African Americans’ psychology, causing emotional solidarity among black listeners and readers. Folklore genres used by Frederick Douglass: tales, legends, fables, anecdotes, proverbs, saying, chant sermons, songs that reflected the mentality and character of black Americans.

7. Tatiana Klimenko
Transbaikal State University, Chita, Russia
Traditions of African-American Humor in Paul Beatty’s satire The Sellout

The paper analyses Paul Beatty’s satirical novel The Sellout, which won 2016 Man Booker Prize, from the point of racial comedy. The author of the paper pays special attention to the use of the language means in the book which can remind us of contemporary American stand-up comics, such as Chris Rock, Richard Pryor, Dave Chapelle. The issues of the novel continue the traditions of Ralph Ellison’s and Ishmael Reed’s. The aesthetics of combining the somber with the absurd is an effective weapon against race in eternal American “conversation on race.”

8. Julia S. Ovchinnikova
Department Foreign Languages and Area Studies,
Lomonosov Moscow State University, Russia
La Muerte Sonriente: Humorous Play Imagery of Death in Mexican and Mexican-American cultures

The report focuses on humorous play imagery of death in Mexican and Mexican-American cultures. Born at the intersection of ancient Mesoamerican beliefs and European carnival tradition, culturological concept “La Muerte Sonriente” nowadays has national importance and is realized in ritualism and hand-made crafts, in everyday life and mass culture, in folk and professional art. A case study of Mexican and Chicano folklore, music, traditional meals, visual arts (engravings, caricatures, traditional paintings, murals and etc.) and different forms of mass culture (posters, broadsides, puppet installations, costume performances and etc.) reveals the following functions of humorous play images of death: transmission of traditional Mexican world view and values, actualization of family and ethnohistorical memory about dead relatives, establishing live connection with forefathers (motive of meeting), as well as educating, ritual, entertaining, advertising and identity functions. Humorous play imagery of death have special significance for Mexican-Americans in process of their ethnocultural identification, in marking borders of Chicano world in national culture of USA and in actualization of cultural dialogue with motherland.

9. Evgenia Orynianskaya
Journalism Department, Lomonosov Moscow State University, Russia
Humor and Satire in Jim Northrup’s Column as a Way of Perceiving the Reality

Not long before his death, Jim Northrup made a list of potential tombstone epitaphs. One of them was: «Here’s one deadline I didn’t miss».
Jim Northrup was an Ojibwe writer, poet, playwright and activist, a marine.
He won many awards, including one for his The Fond du Lac Follies column, which was named Best Column at the 1999 Native American Journalists Association convention. The column described the life on the Indian reservation and was known for warm humor and sharply political undertone. Northrup did not sugarcoat his critique, be it of the tribal government, USA politics or racism. He told stories about his tribe’s traditions, laughing good-naturedly at those that might seem absurd the other cultures. Service in Vietnam and family tragedies only reinforced Northrup’s love for life, while he was not afraid to speak about the sad side of it. His use of humor turned human’s fear, anger, and despair into love and kindness – and that is the great example of the importance of art and, especially, of the gift of storytelling.
In the paper, Jim Northrup’s column is analyzed, which had been published in Indian newspapers The Circle, The Native American Press and News From Indian Country from 1989 till 2001.

Section 5: Gender Aspects of American Culture
(coordinators Dr. Nadezhda Shvedova n.shvedova2015@yandex.ru and Dr. Larisa Mikhaylova larmih@gmail.com )

  1. Larissa V. BaibakovaHistory Department,Lomonosov Moscow State University, RussiaMark Twain’s Depiction of the Struggle for Emancipation of the American Women from the Standpoint of Victorian Ethics

    The main idea of this presentation is to consider such a progressive phenomenon as the struggle for emancipation of the American women through the prism of puritanical mores of the Victorian ethics. The author uses such unique historical source as Mark Twain’s outstanding novel “Gilded age”, information potential of which is still not appreciated by the Russian researchers. As the negative sides of emancipation, Twain caustically ridiculed the change on women’s life priorities, putting first their desire for self-realization in professional and public activities at the expense of typical home maintenance.

2. Larisa Mikhaylova
Journalism Department,
Lomonosov Moscow State University, Russia
Evolution of Gender Representation in American Comedy series: from I Love Lucy (1951-1960) to Mom (2013-)

Comedy TV series serve a good model of gender representation in American culture of the 20th Century second half – first decades of the 21st Century. There are discernible stages showing the struggle for equal roles in the society from attempts to be something other besides a wife and a mother (I Love Lucy, 1951-1957), through struggling as single moms (Lucy Show, 1962-1968) and struggling with realization that your wife possesses far greater powers (Bewitched, 1964-1972), to earning respect as a professional (Mary Tyler Moore Show, 1970-1977). All-women families in several generations (grandmother, mother, daughter, and granddaughter or aunts-nieces) also have an interesting evolution, which can be seen in Sabrina, the Teenage Witch (1996-2003) and a recent continuing Mom (2013-). In the first, through conventions of fantasy and satire, we observe initiation into the rituals and customs of female powers, but also new realms of realization becoming habitable for females in the end of the 20th century, while in the second very realistic one we follow a departure from the old ways due to a refusal of a daughter to repeat the vicious circle and starting to fight her own alcoholism and helping to do it to her mother. Anna Ferris (daughter Christie) and Allison Jenney (mother Bonnie) are no less inspirational today in comedy than Jenney was in the role of a White House conscientious and energetic press secretary C.J. Cragg in a TV drama West Wing (1999-2006). Humor helps to fight the gravest situations, which still abound in the lives of American women.

3. Nadezhda Shvedova
RAS Institute for The U.S. and Canadian Studies,
Moscow, Russia
American Women and D. Trump’s administration: Satire as a Means of Protest

In the general election in November 2016, Republican D. Trump received about three million votes less than Democrat H. Clinton. However, he was supported by the majority in the Electoral College, which is formed by the results of voting in individual states and determines the outcome of elections.
The day after the inauguration of Republican President D. Trump, thousands of American women marched across the country and abroad, demonstrating disagreement with the position of the newly elected president. It should be emphasized that the organization of large-scale marches of protest is in the tradition of the women’s movement in the United States. Demonstrators at the events that were announced as “Women’s marches”, but involving numerous men, criticized the president’s political agenda and his attacks on women and minorities. Majority wore knitted pink and purple “pussy hats”, symbolizing vaginas, in protest against infamous Trump’s “grab them by the pussy” bragging. Thus, they conveyed to D. Trump the message about the importance of women’s rights and human rights in general. Participants in the demonstration advocated racial and gender equality, accessible health care and the right to abortion. These are precisely those issues that are threatened during the reign of D. Trump at the present time. October 6, 2017 Eleanor Smeal – the President one of the most influential women’s organizations in the US “Feminist majority”, which has been for 30 years working and fighting for the equality of women, sends an appeal to the Americans. It is entitled uniquely “Misogynistic attack on women today”, which is permeated with anxiety about the status of American women in connection with the new steps taken by the administration of D.Trump, directly concerning the interests of women.
In what direction does society and the country develop? Will this world become less polarized and property-divided, and society will strengthen humanitarian aspirations? Questions requiring careful study.

4. Maria Kislaya
State Academic University for the Humanities, Moscow, Russia
Women’s & Men’s Humor: American Research on Gender Stereotypes

Nowadays humor plays a great role in our culture. There are various comic forms that we meet almost at every step of our life. Despite of people’s common aspiration to humorous things, there is a great difference in perception of humor, which depends not only on personality but on gender stereotypes as well. It goes without saying, that according to public opinion women’s sense of humor differs from men’s one in a significant way. However, do we have the right to affirm that men excel women in the sense of humor? Is it fair to have such an attitude to women’s jokes?
The problem of different perception of male and female sense of humor became a subject of research. American scholars paid much attention to it, and the results of their researches are included in this report. The strict separation of male and female humor is based on gender stereotypes that make us believe in women’s inability to excel men in jokes. The sources of these stereotypes and the mechanism of their influence must be considered in order to break such a strong myth about women’s sense of humor.

5. Nadezhda Azhgikhina

Journalist Union of Russia

Humor and Irony in Combating Gender Stereotyping. Feminist Media and Humor

Section 6: Fantastic in the Arts
(coordinator Dr. Larisa Mikhaylova larmih@gmail.com MSU, Russia)

1. Larisa Mikhaylova
Journalism Department,
Lomonosov Moscow State University, Russia
Parody as an Affirmative Allusion to Star Trek Universe in the film Galaxy Quest (1999) and TV series Orville (2017)

Half a century anniversary of Star Trek franchise coincided with a period in history of a great uncertainty and serious discrepancies in the views and prognoses concerning the future development of the USA and the world in general. Is the positive outlook on various conflicts development embodied in the Gene Roddenberry’s vision still viable? Two new series connected to Star Trek started to run in 2017 – the official prequel Star Trek: Discovery (CBS) and a project advertised as a Star Trek spoof – Orville (Fox) by Seth MacFarlane. While the first one, whose creators claim to be true to Roddenberry’s original aims, causes a great controversy among the fans, the second gains more and more support among them. The main reason – affirmation of the principles, which for the most are embodied in Star Trek respect to diversity and overcoming contradictions on the background of exploring the Universe.
In the paper, the comparison of Orville and the film Galaxy Quest is conducted with the conclusion that they represent a form of a parody as an affirmative allusion.

2. Artem A. Zubov
Philology Department,
Lomonosov Moscow State University, Russia
Anthropology of Humor in Science Fiction (case studies of Fredric Brown’s Blood and First Time Machine)

In his seminal The Interpretation of Cultures, Clifford Geertz posited that the key to understanding the culture of Another lies in understanding of a joke. Science fiction’s anthropological potential, as a mode of literary writing, resides in its ability to depict cultures different from our own and model scenarios of contact that reveal us to ourselves as aliens. But also, science fiction – as systems of institutions of production and generic interrelations – is itself a culture open to anthropological investigation.
In my presentation, I focus on reader-response theory of science fiction which was elicited by Samuel Delany and continued in Nancy Spencer’s and John Rieder’s research. The scholars interpret reading of science fiction as a process of correction of readers’ expectations aimed at producing the effect of reality of descriptions that have no points of reference in author-reader’s environment. Consequently, humor in science fiction comes from double correction and is a product of deconstruction of both realistically built fantastic world and generic expectations.
My paper includes case studies of two short stories by Fredric Brown both written in 1955. In his stories, the author addresses – as Eric Rabkin put it – the “megatext” of science fiction and deconstructs generic conventions as they formed in the cultural imaginary of readers by the mid-20th century.

3. Yuliya Khoroshevskaya
Southern Federal University, Rostov-on-Don, Russia
The Figure of a Trickster in the American Fantastic Literature

One of the peculiarities of modern literature is erasing boundaries between Cosmos and Chaos, and a further attempt to overcome the binary, including the ancient opposition of evil / good. As a result of mixing and shifting borders, the image of trickster is popularized and romanticized, trickster being the caricature doppelganger of both the god-creator and the cultural hero. Trickster is neither a positive nor a negative hero, but a balance between them. He is the intermediary between the blessing and the hostile, his own and others, the sacred and profane. This image is analyzed on examples of such characters as Martin Silen (Dan Simmons`s Hyperion Cantos), Matt Cauthon (Robert Jordan`s The Wheel of Time), Mr. Wednesday and Mr. Nancy (Neil Gaiman`s American Gods).

4. Dzhafar Verkhovykh
Volgograd State University, Russia
Satire as an Element of Protest: “The Pursuit of Happiness” in the South Park sitcom

On the example of South Park characters, it is analyzed how this sitcom creators interact with the famous Thomas Jefferson’s conception of “Pursuit of Happiness” by the means of satire. Peculiarities of the American society representation in the animated series are examined. The attitude of American viewers to the characters of South Park is determined, which helps to draw conclusions on the degree of the show’s satirical representation efficacy of the moral state of the American society.

Section 7: Canadian Dimension of American Culture
(coordinator Dr Constantin Romanov kromanov@rocketmail.com   MSU, Russia)

1. Constantin Romanov
Department of Foreign Languages and Regional Studies,
Lomonosov Moscow State University, Russia
Overcoming Colonialism: Humor and Irony in Modern Aboriginal Art in Canada

Colonial policies of Canada’s governments in 19-20 centuries towards Indigenous population have recently been criticized. The consequences of this politics to Aboriginal societies are often called “cultural trauma” in modern humanities and social sciences. Attempting to overcome these consequences, many Native artists use humor and irony as remedy that helps to recover their cultures.

2.Marina Pereverzeva
Tchaikovsky Moscow State Conservatory (university), Russia
Comic Works in the Canadian music of the XX century

The Canadian composers of the XX century have created many comic works. They used methods of copying and parodying of the cultiral stylistic features of the various historical periods or nations. Perhaps, a large number of the musical pieces of comic character is caused by the philosophical approach to conceptualize of the world, characteristic Canadian “a look from outside”, the need for communication with listeners in simple and clear language, or may be these opuses were a certain psychological reaction to world events. Anyway they deserve attention of researchers and listeners.

3. Natalia Karelina,
Department of Foreign Languages and Regional Studies,
Lomonosov Moscow State University, Russia

What Do Canadians Laugh at? Jokes and anecdotes about Canada

National humour of different kinds tells a lot about the nation and definitely about the country as a whole. The paper sets out to analyze the most popular Canadian jokes and anecdotes which help to form the image of Canada and the people living there. First of all, these jokes and anecdotes are connected with Canada’s geographic position, climate, national character, social habits and preferences.

4. Maya Petrukhina
Academy of Diplomacy, Moscow, Russia
Political and Cultural Narratives of Canada 150 Anniversary

Sesquicentennial anniversary of Canada Confederation as a date in its history and in terms of a speech of its Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland. Canadian traditions and values to be seen within its inside challenges and interactions of divergent ethnic groups of people. The appointment of the 29th governor –general Julie Payette (Canadian first woman astronaut) as a national symbol. The anniversary ”Canada 150” celebrations with “multicultural parade of nations”, international festival of authors(“Toronto festival of words and ideas”), symbols and specific types of achievements in various spheres of life.

Round Table Discussion
Imprints: Image of Russia and Image of America
(coordinator Professor Yassen Zassoursky)

1. G. S. Lapshina,
Lomonosov Moscow State University, Russia
« He gave people hope»
This is how Yaakov D. Homnick (http://www.evrey.com/sitep/culture/print.php?menu=230) named his article, and it is hard to disagree with this thesis.
In the Library of Congress on the Thomas Jefferson Building’s Ground Floor next to the Gershwin Room one can find Bob Hope Gallery. Bob Hope (1903 – 2003), American comedian, actor, radio- and TV-host, is famous with his numerous performances for American troops, which he conducted also in the war zones. During the span of his career, Bob Hope received awards for his humanitarian work.

2. Józefina Piątkowska-Brzezińska
University of Warsaw, Poland
Emotional Component of Irony in English Translations of Anna Akhmatova’s Lyric Poetry

Detection and translation of irony is one of the most complex tasks for translators. This presentation will focus on the emotional component of ironic utterance. A comprehensive linguistic analysis of chosen texts will be undertaken in order to check if translators have adequately reflected the speaker’s emotional tension. The examples will be provided from English renditions of lyric poems by Anna Akhmatova, who is a poet widely appreciated for her sophisticated irony.

3. T.N.Belova
Department of Philology
Lomonosov Moscow State University, Russia
Satirical Depiction of the American Mode of Life in the Nabokov’s Novels of 1950’s-1960’s
(Pnin, Lolita, Pale Fire)

The detailed and exact realities of American life are depicted in these novels with the trace of real satire coupled with humour in Pnin, which hero is portrayed rather sympathetically. The image of Humbert in Lolita – a maniac-nympholept has got both ironical and satirical connotations, and in this novel satire obviously prevails, while in Pale Fire forms of satire are constantly coupled with grotesque and parody as the narration is given in the distorting mirror of the neurotic consciousness of Kinbot-Botkin, the insane marginal character. The realities of American mode of life are also depicted in these novels with the trace of satire: the boosted motels and hotels, cars and toilets bearing pretentious names, the newest systems of medical treatment, education and bringing up children, academic grants, the cult of consumption and the dominating influence of advertisement, its banality and vulgarity, hypocrisy, etc. But besides the comical and satirical connotation each novel does represent the tragical shades of the epoch: the World wars and revolutions, dramatic Russian emigreé life, elements of racialism and anti-Semitism in American society, etc.

4. Ada Baskina
Moscow, Russia
American Humor through a Muscovite’s Eyes

Americans like making fun. I discovered it at my first step into Kennedy airport (N-Y). All service workers were dressed  in masquerade costumes: they were celebrating Halloween. Later many times I was watching the humoristic style of business persons at their very serious meetings.
Sometimes American humor seems to be rude, coarse. For example jokes with death, or so-called “ass humor”. Very popular in America are anecdotes about dentists and lawyers usually are not understandable for foreigners. Americans, in their turn, do not understand our jokes about drunks.
A book of contemporary anecdotes published in the USA will be analyzed.