Exploring Textual Media in Early Modern China and Korea
2: Jokes as Social Knowledge: The Paratextual Analysis of Jokes in Late Ming Daily-Use Encyclopedias
Thursday, March 24, 2022
12:30pm – 2:00pm EST
Virtual Paper Presenter(s)
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, United States
Thanks to the boom of commercial publishing, numerous joking texts emerged in the late Ming. Among them, jokes in daily encyclopedias are particularly noteworthy but largely overlooked. They shift the reading experience from “self-entertainment” to “amusing others,” highlighting the performative nature of jokes in social activities. Centering on the “Banter and Laughter” division, the article explores the reason why jokes were included in these books which flaunt their practicality. It investigates the division’s textual affinity with divisions on Drinking Games and Brothel Treatises, analyzing the role of performing jokes in contemporary social entertainments. Further, I will scrutinize the revision of jokes in “Banter and Laughter” and its intertextuality with other joking texts to reveal the division’s distinct targeted audience. The performative nature and paratextual strategy of “Banter and Laughter” reflect the late Ming jokes as social knowledge and entertainment guides for performative practices.