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Hang 'em High: Humor, Politics, and Gender in Esther

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abstract
While many scholars have discussed the presence of humor in the book of Esther, much of this work aims to explain why the ancient audience might have laughed at certain passages without any explanation concerning the author’s motivation for including humor. Those scholars who discuss the motivation for the author’s use of humor understand them as using humor to broadly challenge the political status quo, which includes domination across both gendered and ethnic lines of social distinction. They find that the humor in Esther politically supports both the subordinated gender, women, and the subordinated ethnic group, Yehudeans. Such an understanding misrepresents the political perspective of Esther, and needs re-examination. Bea Wyler describes a situation in Esther wherein the author challenges the oppression of Yehudean men, while reaffirming the subordination of Yehudean women. In order to make sense of the political perspective described by Wyler, I examine the book of Esther through the analytical lens of masculinity studies, as laid out by Raewyn Connell in Masculinities. Through this examination, I find that the author of Esther uses humor as one of many tools to negotiate a Jewish masculinity that opposes Persian masculinity, challenging the ethnic domination faced by Yehudeans while supporting the gendered domination faced by women. Ultimately, I reveal the ways in which examinations of humor and politics within biblical texts can be mutually revealing.
subject
Bible
Esther
Ethnicity
Gender
Humor
Masculinity
contributor
Woodward, Thomas Lee (author)
Hoglund, Kenneth G (committee chair)
Foskett, Mary F (committee member)
Whitaker, Jarrod L (committee member)
date
2019-05-24T08:35:30Z (accessioned)
2021-05-23T08:30:13Z (available)
2019 (issued)
degree
Religion (discipline)
embargo
2021-05-23 (terms)
identifier
http://hdl.handle.net/10339/93910 (uri)
language
en (iso)
publisher
Wake Forest University
title
Hang 'em High: Humor, Politics, and Gender in Esther
type
Thesis

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