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November 6, 1931

Constance M. Rourke, ’07 lectured on “What Is Humor? An Anglo-American Contrast” and “Humor of Our Soil.” She compared, according to The Miscellany News, “the young American humor which is more apt to find expression in folk channels, in monologues and the less formal mediums…to the Mississippi River, full of snags and sawyers, or to the Missouri River, in it varying course and character. The wise, old, sophisticated, quiet humor of England could be compared to a well-rounded English oak. English people, who might be considered more civilized than the American nation…are apt to express their humor in the more established forms of essays and dramas.”

Rourke, who taught English at Vassar between 1910 and 1915, compiled and edited The Fiftieth Anniversary of the Opening of Vassar College (1916), an account of the college’s semicentennial. Her writings on aspects of and prominent figures in American culture, particularly American Humour: A Study of National Character (1931), laid the foundation for subsequent studies of American culture and humor.

The Years