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Book: The College Writing Toolkit

Chapter: 6. A Funny Thing Happened to Me: Introducing Oneself Through Humor

DOI: 10.1558/equinox.25911


Martha C. Pennington, in “A Funny Thing Happened To Me: Introducing Oneself Through Humor,” uses the personal funny story as a means of creating a classroom writing community while introducing novice writers in an enjoyable way to peer work, drafting, and the requirements of writing. In a series of writing workshops, Pennington’s students read, critique, and write in response to a range of humorous texts, from the comic tales of classic writers such as Washington Irving to regional humor and different sub-genres of jokes. They describe and analyze their reactions to the humor in these texts and create funny stories of their own, drawing on personal experience. A particular aspect of the assignment is its requirement that students draw a moral or generalization from the story that they use to frame their story. In the humanistic tradition of writing pedagogy, the activity described in this chapter privileges personal experience and the development of an individual voice, while also requiring a focus on narrative and on detailed and creative uses of language.

Chapter Contributors

  • Martha Pennington ( - marthapennington) 'SOAS and Birkbeck College, University of London'