Date: February 3, 2022 | 7.30 – 9.15 p.m. | Zoom

Proposal Deadline: December 20, 2021

During our first teach-in in February 2021, we considered the Trump administration’s 1776 Report and its impact on teaching American Studies (in Germany). Our proposal for a new event picks up the underlying baseline of “doing” and “teaching” American Studies by inviting reflections on humor in relation to and in the field. While this concern might seem less “serious” than that of our first teach-in at first glance, we consider it no less important in terms of the personal and institutional politics involved in being a funny person in the classroom. More precisely, we suggest two larger concerns for our discussion: 

I. Teaching with humor: What humorous materials do people use in class and to what purposes (comics, memes, humorous films/TV/videos, …)? Have people been using such materials more often following a particular event (the Trump presidency, the pandemic, etc.)? What role does “having a laugh” together play in your teaching? People are invited to share examples they consider successful—or (productive) failures!—with the group by placing them in the context of their classes and teaching philosophies.

II. Teaching through humor: What happens when we use humor as teachers in academia? How does the use of humor relate to the prominent idea in Germany of the “serious” academic? In other words, can funny people maintain a reputation as serious scholars, and does the use of humor affect scholars in different career stages in different ways? How does the use of humor affect our gendered, or racialized, or otherwise marked bodies as scholars and teachers in the classroom? What role does humor assume in times of pandemics, ecocrises, deepening political divisions, the politicization of “freedom of speech” in academia, or other crises?Both sections are invited to reflect on the politics of humor in the American Studies classroom. 

Program and Organization: Building on the success of our last teach-in, we propose up to 10 slots for contributors (5 in each of the two sections) who will be allotted 5-7 mins to share their impulses. We will finish the teach-in with a plenary discussion. 

If you’d like to present and share in either of the two sections, please send an e-mail with a brief outline of what you want to do by Dec. 20, 2021 to Nele Sawallisch at

Date: Join us for an evening of serious laughter on February 3, 2022, from 7.30pm-9.15pm. The event will take place online (zoom). Registration info to follow.