W&L Professor Publishes Journal Article in Studies in American Humor Diego Millan’s recent article analyzes the centrality of jokes in the Chester Himes book “If He Hollers Let Him Go.”
Diego Millan, assistant professor of English and Africana studies at Washington and Lee University, recently published an article in the journal Studies in American Humor titled “Joking at the Limits of Protest in Chester Himes’s If He Hollers Let Him Go.”
Millan’s article appeared in the Sept. 2022 edition of the journal and analyzes the centrality of jokes in Himes’s book about a man who lives in fear for simply being black in a white-dominated Los Angeles. His analysis pushes the limits of social protest fiction, a genre typically understood as anything but comedic.
“Tracing a relationship between interiority, what I call ‘the frictions of social laughter,’ and practices of deferment in Himes’s novel shows how pockets of life are made possible within inhospitable environments produced by racist power structures,” said Millan. “Ultimately, by exploring the challenges of laughing together, this article shows that the role that laughter and joking plays in the novel’s expanded vision for black life is larger than previously understood and goes beyond the merely instrumental.”
Millan is also currently working on a book review of Autumn Womack’s “The Matter of Black Living: The Aesthetic Experiment of Racial Data, 1880-1930.” The review will appear in an upcoming issue of Art Journal.
Millan, who serves as a core faculty member for the Africana studies program, has been with the university since 2018. He holds a B.A. in English literature from Bowdoin College and later earned a M.A and Ph.D. in English literature from Tufts University.
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