© 2017

Transgressive Humor of American Women Writers

  • Sabrina Fuchs Abrams
  • Surveys a wide range of female writers and comedians starting with the overlooked Carolyn Wells through Mary McCarthy, Alison Bechdel, Lucille Clifton, Lena Dunham, and Tina Fey

  • Positions the discussion of humor within a larger framework about gender, women’s voices, and the history of women’s writing

  • Draws on various theories of humor, from the so-called superiority theory to the incongruity theory to the relief theory

  • Includes supplementary material:

Palgrave Macmillan

Part of the Palgrave Studies in Comedy book series (PSCOM)

About this book


This collection is the first to focus on the iconoclastic and transformative power of American female humorists. It explores the work of authors and comediennes such as Samantha Bee, Amy Schumer, Lucille Clifton, Constance Rourke, Carolyn Wells, and Lynne Tillman while drawing on various theories of humor including the incongruity superiority/disparagement, and relief theories. The chapters draw from the experiences of women from a variety of racial, class, and gender identities and encompass a variety of genres and comedic forms including poetry, fiction, prose, autobiography, graphic memoir, comedic performance, and new media.Transgressive Humor of American Women Writers will appeal to a general educated readership as well as to those interested in women’s and gender studies, humor studies, urban studies, American literature and cultural studies, and media studies.


Humor Comedy American Literature Parody Alison Bechdel Lucille Clifton

Editors and affiliations

  • Sabrina Fuchs Abrams
    • 1
  1. 1.School for Graduate StudiesSUNY Empire State CollegeNew YorkUSA

About the editors

Sabrina Fuchs Abrams is Associate Professor of English in the School for Graduate Studies at the State University of New York, Empire State College. She is the author of Mary McCarthy: Gender, Politics and the Postwar Intellectual and editor of Literature of New York. She is currently working on a book, The Politics of Humor: New York Women of Wit, and is founder and chair of the Mary McCarthy Society.

Bibliographic information


“[This book] brings together in one volume the most well-recognized and the most cutting-edge scholars, creating the most comprehensive and innovative collection of essays addressing the intersection of American comedy and gender-identity published in the last decade. Every contributor in Abram’s book provides an engaging, erudite and illuminating perspective on the power of American’s women’s humor across the centuries.” (Gina Barreca, author of They Used To Call Me Snow White, But I Drifted: Women’s Strategic Use of Humor, Professor of English at the University of Connecticut, USA)

“The Medusa is surely laughing with joy to see the robust array of women whom Sabrina Fuchs Abrams and her contributors have added to the canon of American humorists. American women since the 1890s have found myriad ways to talk comically back to a culture that often declared them incapable of humor. Students will love Transgressive Humor of American Women Writers for its funny examples and theoretical explanations; scholars will find the footnotes invaluable.” (Judith Yaross Lee, Distinguished Professor of Communication Studies & Charles E. Zumkehr Professor of Rhetoric, Ohio University, Ohio, USA)