Author

Abigail Long

Date of Award

5-8-2012

Document Type

Thesis

Abstract

At the heart of any examination of literature there lies a germinating thought that grows into an extended research project, and I must confess right at the beginning that the thought that rooted me into this two-semester-long investigation of British author P.G.Wodehouse and humor was a selfish one. It came to me one day last fall while re-visiting Wodehouse’s novel The Code of the Woosters, when after laughing aloud at some remark of Bertie Wooster, I said to myself, “it’s too bad I couldn’t get credit for reading this. I would never procrastinate on homework if it was Wodehouse related.” However, this statement reveals an assumption that I later re-examined after participating in discussions about canon in my fall literature seminar class: that Wodehouse represents a type of writing that educators really can’t include in the canon of study in English literature. My readers may at this point anticipate the resulting question from this assumption, namely, “why is there an assumption that Wodehouse can’t be studied?” All readers that I’ve encountered that are familiar with Wodehouse gush about his writing style, and a quick perusal of the accolades on the back cover or inside pages of any Wodehouse novel will tell you that many critics consider him a masterful author. Thus the absence of Wodehouse from all English classes in my career as a student, save for one home school curriculum used for British Literature, seemed odd. If an author is generally considered to be excellent at what they do, why shouldn’t they join the ranks of other ‘proven’ authors common in the canon of study, like Shakespeare, Austen, Twain, or Wilde? This fundamental question was the starting point for my research.

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