Journal of Literary & Cultural Disability Studies

Cool Aspie Humor

Cognitive Difference and Kenneth Burke's Comic Corrective in The Big Bang Theory and Community

Journal of Literary & Cultural Disability Studies (2013), 7, (3), 271–288.

Abstract

The article explores the complexities of humor in the context of intellectual disability, autism, and Asperger's Syndrome. Specifically, the rhetorician Kenneth Burke's theory of perspective by incongruity is applied to humor theory, and there is a focus on his comic corrective as a way of understanding potentially transformative contexts of humor and disability. Two television shows, The Big Bang Theory and Community, are considered, the argument being that each offers new and unexpected ways of understanding and blurring categories such as "autistic" and "neurotypical," as well as "nondisabled" and "disabled."

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Lockyer, Sharon, and Michael Pickering. Beyond a Joke: The Limits of Humour. Houndsmills and New York: Palgrave Macmillian, 2009. Print. Beyond a Joke: The Limits of Humour Google Scholar

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Mitchell, David T., and Sharon L. Snyder. Narrative Prosthesis: Disability and the Dependencies of Discourse. Ann Arbor: U of Michigan P, 2000. Print. Narrative Prosthesis: Disability and the Dependencies of Discourse Google Scholar

Morreall, John. Comic Relief: A Comprehensive Philosophy of Humor. Oxford and Malden: Wiley-Blackwell, 2009. Print. Comic Relief: A Comprehensive Philosophy of Humor Google Scholar

Morreall, John. "Humour and the Conduct of Politics." Beyond a Joke: The Limits of Humor. Ed. Sharon Lockyer and Michael Pickering. Houndsmills and New York: Palgrave Macmillian, 2009. 65-80. Print. Beyond a Joke: The Limits of Humor 65 80 Google Scholar

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Big Bang Theory, The: The Complete First Season. Warner Home Video, 2008. DVD. Google Scholar

Raftery, Brian. "How Dan Harmon drives himself crazy making Community." Wired. 22 Sep. 2011. Web. 1 Oct. 2011. How Dan Harmon drives himself crazy making Community Wired. Google Scholar

Burke, Kenneth. Permanence and Change. 1935. Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill, 1954. Print. Permanence and Change Google Scholar

Rice, Jeff. The Rhetoric of Cool: Composition Studies and New Media. Carbondale: Southern Illinois U P, 2007. Print. The Rhetoric of Cool: Composition Studies and New Media Google Scholar

Burke, Kenneth. Attitudes toward History. 1937. Berkeley: U of California P, 1959. Print. Attitudes toward History Google Scholar

Rueckert, William Howe. Encounters with Kenneth Burke. Urbana: U of Illinois P, 1994. Print. Encounters with Kenneth Burke Google Scholar

Clare, Eli. Exile and Pride: Disability, Queerness, and Liberation. Cambridge: South End P, 1999. Print. Exile and Pride: Disability, Queerness, and Liberation Google Scholar

Community: The Complete First Season. Sony, 2010. DVD. Google Scholar

Tropic Thunder. Dir. Ben Stiller. Paramount, 2008. DVD. Google Scholar

Davis, Diane D. Breaking Up at Totality: A Rhetoric of Laughter. Carbondale: Southern Illinois UP, 2000. Print. Breaking Up at Totality: A Rhetoric of Laughter Google Scholar

Vital Signs: Crip Culture Talks Back. Dir. David Mitchell and Sharon Synder. Boston: Fanlight Productions, 1997. DVD. Google Scholar

Davis, Lennard J. Enforcing Normalcy: Disability, Deafness, and the Body. New York: Verso, 1995. Print. Enforcing Normalcy: Disability, Deafness, and the Body Google Scholar

Davis, Lennard J. "Constructing Normalcy: The Bell Curve, the Novel, and the Invention of the Disabled Body in the Nineteenth Century." The Disability Studies Reader. New York: Routledge, 2006: 3-16. Print. The Disability Studies Reader 3 16 Google Scholar

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Family Guy: Volume Eight. 20th Century Fox, 2010. DVD. Google Scholar

Hubbard, Jeremy. "Palins cry foul on ‘Family Guy’ Down Syndrome episode, others see ‘sense of humor’." ABC World News with Diane Sawyer. 20 Feb. 2010. Web. 1 Sep. 2011. Palins cry foul on ‘Family Guy’ Down Syndrome episode, others see ‘sense of humor’ ABC World News with Diane Sawyer. Google Scholar

Linton, Simi. Claiming Disability. New York: New York UP, 1998. Print. Claiming Disability Google Scholar

Liu, Alan. The Laws of Cool: Knowledge Work and the Culture of Information. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 2004. Print. The Laws of Cool: Knowledge Work and the Culture of Information Google Scholar

Lockyer, Sharon, and Michael Pickering. Beyond a Joke: The Limits of Humour. Houndsmills and New York: Palgrave Macmillian, 2009. Print. Beyond a Joke: The Limits of Humour Google Scholar

Mallett, Rebecca. "Choosing ‘Stereotypes’: Debating the Efficacy of (British) Disability-Criticism." Journal of Research in Special Educational Needs 9.1 (2009): 4-11. Print. Choosing ‘Stereotypes’: Debating the Efficacy of (British) Disability-Criticism Journal of Research in Special Educational Needs 9 4 11 Google Scholar

Mallett, Rebecca. "Claiming Comedic Immunity Or, What Do You Get When You Cross Contemporary British Comedy with Disability?" Review of Disability Studies 6.3 (2010): 5-14. Print. Claiming Comedic Immunity Or, What Do You Get When You Cross Contemporary British Comedy with Disability? Review of Disability Studies 6 5 14 Google Scholar

Mitchell, David T. "Narrative Prosthesis and the Materiality of Metaphor." Disability Studies: Enabling the Humanities. Ed. Sharon L. Snyder, Brenda Jo Brueggemann, and Rosemarie Garland-Thomson. New York: MLA, 2002. 15-30. Print. Disability Studies: Enabling the Humanities 15 30 Google Scholar

Mitchell, David T., and Sharon L. Snyder. Narrative Prosthesis: Disability and the Dependencies of Discourse. Ann Arbor: U of Michigan P, 2000. Print. Narrative Prosthesis: Disability and the Dependencies of Discourse Google Scholar

Morreall, John. Comic Relief: A Comprehensive Philosophy of Humor. Oxford and Malden: Wiley-Blackwell, 2009. Print. Comic Relief: A Comprehensive Philosophy of Humor Google Scholar

Morreall, John. "Humour and the Conduct of Politics." Beyond a Joke: The Limits of Humor. Ed. Sharon Lockyer and Michael Pickering. Houndsmills and New York: Palgrave Macmillian, 2009. 65-80. Print. Beyond a Joke: The Limits of Humor 65 80 Google Scholar

 Google Scholar

Puig, Claudia. "Protesters find no humor in ‘Tropic Thunder.’" USA Today. 12 Aug. 2008. Web. 1 Sep. 2011. Protesters find no humor in ‘Tropic Thunder.’ USA Today. Google Scholar

Raftery, Brian. "How Dan Harmon drives himself crazy making Community." Wired. 22 Sep. 2011. Web. 1 Oct. 2011. How Dan Harmon drives himself crazy making Community Wired. Google Scholar

Rice, Jeff. The Rhetoric of Cool: Composition Studies and New Media. Carbondale: Southern Illinois U P, 2007. Print. The Rhetoric of Cool: Composition Studies and New Media Google Scholar

Rueckert, William Howe. Encounters with Kenneth Burke. Urbana: U of Illinois P, 1994. Print. Encounters with Kenneth Burke Google Scholar

Tropic Thunder. Dir. Ben Stiller. Paramount, 2008. DVD. Google Scholar

Vital Signs: Crip Culture Talks Back. Dir. David Mitchell and Sharon Synder. Boston: Fanlight Productions, 1997. DVD. Google Scholar

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Author details

Walters, Shannon