Coming Next Issue
The theme will be “Honor.”
Potential topics for the summer 2014
edition include pet euthanasia; how
the massacre of Armenians in the
Ottoman Empire led Britain and then
the West to universal notions of
justice and humanitarianism; military
honor across the ages; an appreciation of Harriet Quimby, an early
aviatrix; honoring the humanness of
the handicapped; the dishonor of
While thrown by the rubber chicken in a business suit on Phi Kappa Phi Forum’s
fall 2013 cover, I appreciate the need
to integrate humor into our lives and
work, as suggested by some of the
content of that “Funny Business”
issue. Laughter is indeed good medicine, and humor can be about thinking, not just laughter.
With that in mind, Arizona State
University’s Project Humanities designed its fall 2013 kickoff week
around the theme, “Humor … Seriously!” As Project Humanities Director and English Professor Neal
Lester (University of West Georgia)
noted, this was “an opportunity to
look at humor across disciplines,
communities, generations, and professions.” Indeed, not only did audiences laugh, but ASU campuses and surrounding communities were able to “talk, listen, and connect” via the humanities — the
goal of the project.
“Humor … Seriously!” included diverse
events and topics about humor and business,
pedagogy, religion, health, gender, race and sexual identity, to name a few. Presentations by Bill
Nye “The Science Guy” and Alison Bechdel,
comic strip and graphic memoir writer, drew
strong audiences, as did discussions, films, poetry slams — and even a Funniest ASU Teacher
contest — on all four campuses.
As a historian and Phoenix Art Museum docent, I worked in conjunction with the Peabody
Award-winning series, Art21, which chronicles
contemporary art, and its global initiative, “100
Artists,” moderating a panel discussion on the
“Humor” episode with award-winning Phoe-nix-based artists. Our ASU Phi Kappa Phi chapter sponsored the refreshments for this activity.
Another night, our Philosophy and Film Se-
ries at the Downtown Phoenix campus viewed
Charlie Chaplin’s The Great Dictator, a 1940 sat-
ire about a Hitler-like despot with a poor Jewish
barber as a doppelganger, and I spoke on,
“What’s So Funny About Fascism?” then led a
Q&A. Like fascism, however, not everything is
funny. Humor is not timeless nor always appro-
priate, but Chaplin, in his first talkie, allowed us
to see how even when the most serious issues
are at hand — oppression, war, hatred — humor
may catch us off-guard just enough that we con-
sider change — consider speaking up. Simulta-
neously, as Nye said, “The more you find out
about the world, the more opportunities there
are to laugh at it.”
So I commend the attendant implication of
the fall magazine — even if I have problems
with the front cover — that humor is another
way to help us think better.
— Pamela Stewart
ASU chapter president
School of Letters and Sciences
Letters to the Editor Submission Guidelines
Phi Kappa Phi Forum welcomes letters to the editor for consideration for
publication. Letters should be no more than 400 words and may be
edited for content or length. Note: submission does not necessarily mean
publication; the editor decides based on appropriateness and space. Send
Letters to the Editor
The Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi
7576 Goodwood Blvd.
Baton Rouge, LA 70806
*Letters become the property of this publication and cannot be
returned to sender.
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Virginia Commonwealth University’s Society chapter bestows several scholarships.