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Sabrina Fuchs Abrams
SUNY Research Foundation, Empire State College (Saratoga Springs, NY 12866-4309)
The Politics of Humor during the Interwar Period: New York Women of Wit

Research and writing one chapter of a book on women’s humor in New York City, 1920–1950.

Women’s humor has been largely overlooked and undervalued, yet it offers a unique perspective in critiquing existing social structures and rethinking gender roles in American society. While there has been a recent resurgence in the role of women in comedy, this book looks back at the innovators and ground-breaking female humorists of the twentieth century. In particular, I will focus on the women of wit of the interwar period: Edna St. Vincent Millay among the Greenwich Village bohemians, Dorothy Parker among the Algonquin wits, Tess Slesinger of the Menorah Journal, Jessie Fauset and Nella Larsen among the Harlem Renaissance writers, Dawn Powell of the Lafayette circle, and Mary McCarthy among the Partisan Review crowd. Through the use of satire, irony and wit, these women were able to mask their social critique through the palliative form of laughter, and to set the stage for future generations of smart, sassy women.

Project fields:
American Literature

Summer Stipends

Research Programs

$6,000 (approved)
$6,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
7/13/2020 – 9/11/2020