The Funny Thing Is: Sherman Alexie's Comedy and the Greater Ethical Imperative

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Jeff Westover


My research is based on an examination of two short stories by the Native American author Sherman Alexie. I explored the way in which Alexie’s short stories “The Approximate Size of My Favorite Tumor” and “War Dances” both uniquely meditate on mortality and illness through the lens of humor. This provided me with an intriguing entry point for a discussion of authorship and the ethics of humor. By inquiring how Alexie’s stories that focus on terminal illness shed a unique light on the ethics of humor I was able to identify the imperative social critique that is embedded in Alexie’s body of work. This line of inquiry has resulted in a fifteen page research paper that both theorizes on these aspects of Alexie’s works while synthesizing some work of critical scholars on Native American Literature.

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