Professor publishes German humor books

Professor Jill Twark’s most recent book on German humor was published earlier this year. -Erika Khalil | The East Carolinian


Jill Twark is not afraid to poke fun at Germany’s serious past


Germany’s serious history is well known around the world. Something that most people do not know is that Germany and its inhabitants have become more humorous over time. They even make fun of their serious past!

Jill Twark, an associate professor of German, has published two books on this very topic. In 2007, her first book, “Humor, Satire, and Identity: Eastern German Literature in the 1990s,” was published by Walter de Gruyter in Berlin Germany. Most recently, Cambridge Scholars Publishing in England published her second book “Strategies of Humor in Post-Unification German Literature, Film, and Other Media” in June.

David Smith, associate professor of German and program coordinator of ECU German, said that Twark “was well-published and extremely energetic and committed to her studies in humor and the studies of students in the German program.”

“I chose the topic because I find it to be interesting and relevant. Humor has become an important part of German culture today,” Twark stated. She explained that before the Berlin Wall came down in 1989, East Germany and West Germany were vastly different places. She said, “The East Germans lived in a rigid society. There were fewer choices to be made in consumer goods and things like healthcare or choosing to attend a university.” So, when the wall came down and two completely different societies had to intermingle, it led to some conflicts and rivalries. Humor became a way to address this very new situation.

One of the first instances to address the cultural differences with humor was the creation of the character Gaby, a typical East German. She was featured on the cover of a German magazine called “The Titanic” in November 1989. Twark explained that Gaby was “a young woman with an unfashionable, short, curly haircut, wearing a jean jacket (for these reasons alone easily identifiable to all Germans as an East German.)” When asked what an American equivalent to Gaby would be, Twark answered, “Wayne from ‘Wayne’s World’: bad hair, bad clothes, awkward and a very 80’s pop-culture look.”

According to Twark, Germans were beginning to take life less seriously and people could relax more after reunification. She explained, “There was the 2nd World War and the Holocaust which were followed by the Cold War. During the Cold War, there was tension because of the living threat of Nuclear War.” She also said that by the late 20th and the 21st century there was less guilt about the crimes of the past by the new generations of Germans.

It is important to note that German humor is different from American humor. Twark said, “German humor is more intellectual and possesses greater depth than U.S. humor. There is an educational component to comedic films and books.” Satire is the humor mode of choice for the Germans, according to Twark, since it “combines social criticism with humor.” There are two articles featured in the book that involve “Hitler Humor,” which is relatively recent. This humor is featured in the 2007 film “Mein Führer: The Truly Truest Truth about Adolf Hitler” by Dany Levi, and the 1968 play “Springtime for Hitler” by U.S. producer Mel Brooks. “Springtime for Hitler” was run in the U.S. in 1968,” said Twark, “but it wasn’t shown in Germany until 2009.” There are commonly political cartoons in newspapers and late night comedy shows, like the Harold Schmidt Show and the Stefan Raab Show, which are popular in Germany. These late night comedy shows attempt to mirror the shows of David Letterman and Jay Leno here in the U.S.

Twark is hoping to have more lectures about German humor, like the one she recently held on campus, around town in the near future.

This writer can be contacted at lifestyles@theeastcarolinian.com.

13 Comments for “Professor publishes German humor books”

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        Historically a part of the West Riding of Yorkshire, Leeds can trace its recorded history to the 5th century when the Kingdom of Elmet was covered by the forest of “Loidis”, the origin of the name Leeds. The name has been applied to many administrative entities over the centuries. It changed from being the appellation of a small manorial borough, in the 13th century, through several incarnations, to being the name attached to the present metropolitan borough. In the 17th and 18th centuries Leeds became a major centre for the production and trading of wool. Then, during the Industrial Revolution, Leeds developed into a major industrial centre; wool was still the dominant industry but flax, engineering, iron foundries, printing, and other industries were important.[18] From being a compact market town in the valley of the River Aire in the 16th century Leeds expanded and absorbed the surrounding villages to become a populous urban centre by the mid-20th century.

        Public transport, rail and road communications networks in the region are focused on Leeds and there are a number of twinning arrangements with towns and cities in other countries. Its assigned role in the Leeds City Region partnership recognises the city’s importance to regional economic development.

        Contents [hide]
        1 History
        1.1 Toponymy
        1.2 Economic development
        1.3 Local government
        1.4 Suburban growth
        2 Geography
        3 Climate
        4 Demography
        4.1 Urban subdivision
        4.2 Metropolitan district
        5 Government
        6 Economy
        6.1 Shopping
        7 Landmarks
        8 Transport
        9 Walking
        10 Education
        10.1 Schools
        10.2 Further and higher education
        11 Culture
        11.1 Media
        11.2 Museums
        11.3 Music, theatre and dance
        11.4 Carnivals and festivals
        11.5 Nightlife
        12 Sports
        12.1 Leeds teams
        13 Religion
        14 Public services
        15 Twin towns
        16 See also
        17 References and notes
        18 External links

    • sina

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      Over 150 million professionals use LinkedIn to exchange information, ideas and opportunities
      Leeds (i/ˈliːdz/) is a city and metropolitan borough in West Yorkshire, England.[2] In 2001 Leeds’ main urban subdivision had a population of 443,247,[3] while the entire city has a population of 798,800 (2011 est.),[4] making it the 30th-most populous city in the European Union.

      Leeds is the cultural, financial and commercial heart of the West Yorkshire Urban Area,[5][6][7] which at the 2001 census had a population of 1.5 million,[8] and the Leeds-Bradford Metropolitan Area, of which Leeds is the integral part, had a population of around 2.3 million, making it the fourth-largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom.[9] In addition, the Leeds city region, an economic area with Leeds at its core, had a population of 2.9 million.[10] Leeds is the UK’s largest centre for business, legal, and financial services outside London,[11][12][13][14][15] and its office market is the best in Europe for value.[16] Leeds is considered a Gamma World City, alongside cities such as Rotterdam, Phoenix, St. Petersburg and Valencia.[17]

      Historically a part of the West Riding of Yorkshire, Leeds can trace its recorded history to the 5th century when the Kingdom of Elmet was covered by the forest of “Loidis”, the origin of the name Leeds. The name has been applied to many administrative entities over the centuries. It changed from being the appellation of a small manorial borough, in the 13th century, through several incarnations, to being the name attached to the present metropolitan borough. In the 17th and 18th centuries Leeds became a major centre for the production and trading of wool. Then, during the Industrial Revolution, Leeds developed into a major industrial centre; wool was still the dominant industry but flax, engineering, iron foundries, printing, and other industries were important.[18] From being a compact market town in the valley of the River Aire in the 16th century Leeds expanded and absorbed the surrounding villages to become a populous urban centre by the mid-20th century.

      Public transport, rail and road communications networks in the region are focused on Leeds and there are a number of twinning arrangements with towns and cities in other countries. Its assigned role in the Leeds City Region partnership recognises the city’s importance to regional economic development.

      Contents [hide]
      1 History
      1.1 Toponymy
      1.2 Economic development
      1.3 Local government
      1.4 Suburban growth
      2 Geography
      3 Climate
      4 Demography
      4.1 Urban subdivision
      4.2 Metropolitan district
      5 Government
      6 Economy
      6.1 Shopping
      7 Landmarks
      8 Transport
      9 Walking
      10 Education
      10.1 Schools
      10.2 Further and higher education
      11 Culture
      11.1 Media
      11.2 Museums
      11.3 Music, theatre and dance
      11.4 Carnivals and festivals
      11.5 Nightlife
      12 Sports
      12.1 Leeds teams
      13 Religion
      14 Public services
      15 Twin towns
      16 See also
      17 References and notes
      18 External links

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    Patricia Lefranc was left horrifically disfigured after her jilted lover sprayed sulphuric acid on her face. The 48-year-old lady spent three months in a coma. She lost the sight of one eye, became partially deaf, and had to endure 86 surgical operations. Two years have passed since the attack; still the acid continues to erode her skin and eat away her nose. Being mocked by her son’s school friends, being stared at in the street, being cited as example to unyielding girls by threatening lovers…, the horror and shame of it haunts her in myriad forms. ‘Remes has ruined my life as a woman. I am determined to look him in the eye and show the jury what he has done to me. I would also appeal to his wife. She paints me as a manipulator who hooked her husband. I think that’s an insult – a dagger in my back.’Richard Remes, the accused, has apologised for the attack; but he denies that he intended to murder or even maim her, confessing that he did not realise that the acid would have such horrible consequences.The story goes that Ms. Lefranc was a janitor in the apartments where the accused Mr. Remes had been living with his wife and children. There he fell into an affair with her, and when she wanted to close it after two years, showered the attack.A jury in Brussels convicted 57-year-old Richard Remes and sentenced to 30 years in prison for attempted murder.

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  9. Erika Khalil

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