Carnivalesque enculturation: Rhetoric, play, and "Wabbit Literacy"
AuthorKelley, Marion Louis
AdvisorWarnock, Sue Tilly
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractThis dissertation explores the processes that enable understanding of irony and parody, arguing that understanding of ironic and parodic discourse is grounded in socially-constructed knowledge, frequently through knowledge derived from mass media. Although parody and irony are often commodified products of mass culture, they can also help interpret and critique mass media. I also conceptualize a type of cultural knowledge for which I have coined the term "Wabbit Literacy" in recognition of the many parodies found in Bugs Bunny cartoons. Wabbit Literacy is a dialogic means of learning resulting when a reader encounters parodic references to a text before encountering the text being parodied. What is for the writer a parodic allusion to a given cultural artifact (text 1) becomes for the reader of the parodic text (text 2), the primary reference point for awareness of text 1. Wabbit Literacy offers a new perspective from which to consider the situatedness of dialogic interactions among readers, writers, and text(s). Wabbit Literacy examines the "temporal contexts" of discourse, the relations among a particular reader's earliest encounters with a text, later encounters with the text(s), and changes in the reader's interpretations over time. Wabbit Literacy begins with a moment that most conventional discussions of parody and irony might describe as a reader's "failure" to "get" an irony or parody. Such "failure" to interpret irony or parody is not always the terminus of the discursive event, and may often be the beginning of learning, a first step toward competence in particular socially constructed discourses. In addition, the dissertation examines similarities between the classical enthymeme and the process of understanding humor and parody. Humor and rhetorical enthymemes work because members of discursive communities make use of socially-constructed common knowledge; parody deploys enthymematic social and textual norms for humorous purposes. Because parodic frames involve deliberately playful perspectives, Wabbit Literacy can interrogate ideological underpinnings of knowledge systems. Parody can enable tactical, local resistance to corporate entertainment products. Fans' playful transformations of commodified entertainment can give them a measure of individual agency, constituting a form of "vernacular theory" that enables a critical approach to entertainment texts.
Degree ProgramGraduate College
Rhetoric, Composition, and the Teaching of English