You may think humor is all about laughter, but humanities professor Tom Inge, Ph.D.,
finds it educational. He’s studied a wide range of topics within American popular
culture and humor, as well as Southern culture and literature. One thing he’s learned
is that humor can be both helpful and hurtful.
On December 5, 2007, he was interviewed by reporter Adolfo Guzman-Lopez for a radio
show on “hegemonic humor,” or humor at the expense of immigrants, especially Latinos.
According to Guzman-Lopez, Latino activists say there has been an increase in anti-Latino
humor on primetime Television. He cited shows like “Ugly Betty,” which critics say
perpetuates old stereotypes, and skits by late night comedians like Jimmy Kimmel,
who often makes fun of his Mexican sidekick, Guillermo.
“Laughing at newcomers is nothing new,” Inge said during the interview which aired
in Southern California public radio station 89.3 FM. “We make fun of them, then
they somehow figure out a way to turn this humor to a benefit …, become assimilated,
and then we take on the next group. This has happened to the Irish, Germans, Jews,
and other ethnic groups. It seems to be a part of the American experience.”
While Inge is an expert on humor and popular culture, he is an internationally recognized
authority on comics and their influence on our culture. He was interviewed on December
14, 2007 about his friendship with the late Charles Schulz and his study of the
“Peanuts” comic strip. It aired on program called “Sound Authors” by Kent Gustavson
on the Modavox Network’s World Talk Radio. The program is devoted to interviews
with authors and cultural figures.
Inge is also an occasional contributor to local newspapers such as Style Weekly,
where his latest article discusses the shrinking placement of comics in newspapers,
and the Richmond Times-Dispatch, where he wrote a book review of the new biography
by David Michaelis, Schulz and Peanuts. His latest book, to be published next March,
is the New Encyclopedia of Southern Culture, Volume 9: Literature, a survey of writing
in the South.
Tom Inge is a 1959 graduate of Randolph-Macon College where he is now Blackwell
Professor of the Humanities. He received his master’s degree and Ph.D. from Vanderbilt
University in English and American literature.