Yes, but is it funny?

From 1897 to 1974, the Quiver served as the University's annual. In the pages of this yearbook we find the faces of the students and staff of the Oshkosh Normal School, the Oshkosh State Teachers College, the State College and State University at Oshkosh and finally the University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh. The books document these people's scholarly and physical pursuits and achievements and at times, their lighter sides as well.

During its first thirty years or so, the Quiver dedicated its back pages to expressions of humor. The humor section featured jokes, stories, songs, limericks, plays, photographs and cartoons lampooning the school's faculty, the coursework, boarding house life, rival schools, etc. Essentially every aspect of college life was fair game to laugh at, or at least that was the intent. Today we can only assume that these shots were received in the manner they were intended. Because the humor was based on inside jokes, long-forgotten personalities and other context of the time, it is very difficult for us to understand the humor today.

Take for example this cartoon: What could it mean? Did it make its intended audience fall on the floor laughing?

Our staff has no idea.

Waistline Cartoon
Still, other jokes in the Quiver can be deciphered and by doing so, a story unfolds. Humor can be an incredibly rich source for historical information, since satire serves as an effective means of political and social expression. Many of these illustrations in the early Quivers give us details of student life that no other source can match, as satire both reports and comments on events simultaneously. Knowing this does not, however, help us laugh. One must eventually ask:

Yes, but is it funny?

To find out just how funny Quiver humor can be, and more importantly, to learn about the stories the jokes point us to, please take part in the following quiz.

Click Here to BeginClick on me to go to first question.

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