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Research Paper On Anatomy Of Humor


You are tasked with writing a proposal for a research paper you will write before the end of the course. Here are some basic guidelines about what that will look like:

1.  Your paper must connect to the MATERIAL we have discussed all semester – Berger’s discussion of how humor works.  

2.  It must produce controversy – that is, someone could theoretically disagree with you.

3.  It must be a work of synthesis, meaning that you have to show multiple critical sources ‘speaking’ to one another, often in the same paragraph.  (You have seen academic writing that does this – it happens almost any time 3 or more sources are talked about in a single paragraph.)

4.  It must be analytical, in that you choose things to analyze and criticize -- at least 3 pieces of comedy, or “cultural artifacts,” or “objects of criticism.”

5.  It must make use of AT LEAST 4 SCHOLARLY SOURCES BESIDES BERGER’S TEXT. These sources should help you come up with the argument you want to make, and they should also become credibility-building EVIDENCE for your assertions.

Hint 1: Berger has written more scholarly texts than just this one. 

Hint 2: Berger, and every other scholar, includes a works cited page.  See – they’re not stupid, or wastes of time.  They’re really, really useful!

6.  You should use at least 3 objects of criticism, i.e. humorous cultural artifacts.  You may use more.

But the proposal isn’t the paper itself – it’s a chance to come up with an idea, then a thesis, and to plan and fine-tune your research before you are tasked with writing the long paper.  It is as much an essay as it is a formal document – you are asking me, your mentor, to approve what you are proposing so that you can go forward, and to add my insight to the inquiry you propose.

The Research Question:  

What questions do you want to ask? What questions do you hope to answer? What brought you to ask these questions? What need or lack does the paper address?

Specific Aims:

Rather than a statement about what the paper will be about, you want to create a project statement about what the paper hopes to accomplish.  You might want to accomplish more than 1 thing, and that’s OK – you could catalogue instances of sexist humor, put them in historical context, and use feminist scholarship to explain the power relationships it sustains.

Research Methods:

This one is stupid.  Don’t do it.  KIDDING!  But it does seem dumb, when all you are doing is library database research, right? 

But you aren’t “just” doing database research.  You are doing close-readings of all sorts of media, and this is your place to say “I will watch 4 episodes of I Love Lucy, and four episodes of Modern Family, noting each time women are referred to in stereotypical or degrading terms, and remark on the context of each incidence.”

So, if there’s nothing in this section about what you SPECIFICALLY intend to do in your research, I can pretty much assume your final paper is going to suck eggs.

Literature Review:

This is a bit like an annotated bibliography.  I want you to discuss, in paragraphs (not in a list), all of the texts you have found so far.  You should find all of your scholars, though you don’t have to completely read and digest them all yet.  You should discuss EACH source, briefly explain what it is/what it is about, and explain its value or importance to your research. 

The MIT presentation says that you can “use this section to show how your project extends previous work…avoids previous mistakes or errors… [or] is unique because it does not follow the same path as previously followed.”

It has even more good advice about this section:

  • Briefly SUMMARIZE what we know so far (about your topic - not all of apoptosis) 
  • STATE what we need to know next (you can frame it as a question if you like) 
  • EXPLAIN why we don’t know it yet (often a methodological issue) 
  • DESCRIBE how you intend to find the answer


Your conclusion, in this case, should be a discussion of what you still need to do, and what you still need to know.  You don’t have to have all the answers yet, but you do have to have a plan, and I want to see that you are asking smart questions about a topic that you have spend a lot of time with!


Can I recycle my first paper topic?  Yes, but each successive paper must show significant revision—you can’t just add a few pages, but must instead reframe the question and do original work on the same topic. You may not, under any circumstances, just add to a paper you have written for another class—though you may use sources you have used before.

Should I use section headings, as you have above?  Yes!  Research proposals are formatted documents, so doing so makes sense.

I dont need to use MLA style for this, right?  WRONG! You should use MLA style for every paper you write in this class.

Should I discuss authors together in the lit review, or should I discuss each one separately?  You will undoubtedly have to talk about them separately, but we are ultimately looking for synthesis.  If you find yourself talking about how sources interact, you are writing stuff you can probably use for your final paper!

Do I have to use the same topic I used for my first paper?  No! In fact, if your topic is EXACTLY the same, you aren’t doing the work of revising the paper.  If you are sick of it, start from scratch.  If you are still interested, refine and focus your topic through the process of writing this proposal.


Title: Research Paper On Anatomy Of Humor
Length: 5 pages (1499 Words)
Style: MLA




Humor is used in all kinds of communication, it makes experiences pleasant and enjoyable and it is also believed to be influential and persuasive. Humor is a key element in social interactions. There are many areas in humor and satire that provide viable research area.

Research Question

This research takes a broad approach on the research topic; the reason for this approach is to gather more information on issues related to humor during public address whether in board rooms or political rallies. This has been brought about by the fact that there is not much information on how humor affects the public or the message being talked about during a public address or rally. Therefore, based on these considerations it is possible to get more information on the following research questions that arises:

  • Does humor work during public address?
  • Does age factor in on usage and appreciation during public address?
  • Does culture factor in on usage and appreciation during public address?
  • Does humor affect the message being projected during public address?
  • Does humor integrate or disintegrate societies based on how it is received by the audience?
  • Do most public jokes violate social conventions?

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