Mark Twain first rose to fame as the author of an essay about a frog-jumping contest in California. Originally titled “Jim Smiley and His Jumping Frog,” the essay went viral in America’s biggest newspapers, eventually inspiring the New York Tribune to write of Twain that “no reputation was ever so rapidly won.” Yet the humor which made the essay so popular is often lost on modern audiences, in no small part because, as Ben Turnoff writes in Lapham’s Quarterly, frontier humor isn’t funny if there's no Wild West.
“Dr. Kristin M. Barton is seeking proposals for an edited volume … which will explore Arrested Development from a scholarly perspective,” reads a call for submissions on H-Net. I can see the titles of these essays now. Can’t you? “Desperation Economics: There’s Always Money in the Banana Stand” or “I Don’t Know What I Was Expecting: An Exploration of Dead Doves and Tragicomedy.”
Recommended reading: a piece for The Toast "In Which Three Adults Discuss A Wrinkle in Time Seriously and At Length." Related: A Wrinkle in Time may finally become a (good) movie.
The Toast is nearing the end of its long, hilarious run. Hurry up and check out the new pieces while you still can -- like this helpful guide as to whether or not you are in a Regency-era novel written after the end of the Regency, full of dead giveaways like: "There is lace at your throat and wrists and disdain in your eyes and heart."
“Ms. Gitelman’s argument may seem like an odd lens on familiar history. But it’s representative of an emerging body of work that might be called 'paperwork studies.' True, there are not yet any dedicated journals or conferences. But in history, anthropology, literature and media studies departments and beyond, a group of loosely connected scholars are taking a fresh look at office memos, government documents and corporate records, not just for what they say but also for how they circulate and the sometimes unpredictable things they do.”
"excited to get over you by being obsessed with somebody who doesn't want me." Poetic Twitter accounts are all the rage. Over at The New Yorker, Haley Mlotek takes an in-depth look at one account in particular that is toeing the line between dark humor and debilitating sadness, @SoSadToday.