Chapter

Humours<sup>1</sup> of the Great Strike

Rachelle Hope Saltzman

in A Lark for the Sake of Their Country

Published by Manchester University Press

Published in print January 2012 | ISBN: 9780719079771
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781781704080 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7228/manchester/9780719079771.003.0006
Humours1 of the Great Strike

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‘Humours of the General Strike’ illustrates the ways in which a variety of humorous verbal genres, dramatic forms, and satirical cartoons proliferated during the strike. Observers and participants of all stripes employed bus slogans, joking riddles, narrative jokes and anecdotes, as well as personal experience narratives, to refer to and comment upon the behaviour of strikers, volunteers, government officials, observers, and other participants. From across the political spectrum, the British media used the “humours of the strike” to frame the actions of the volunteers as transforming the strike into one big lark. Volunteers and their journalistic cohorts at university and society publications most often employed those forms to jokingly discount and thus downplay the impact of volunteer activities--especially those of Society women. While individuals, no matter their class or politics, were quite explicit about the volunteers' actions merely reflecting the “natural” state of affairs, the working-class media directed their criticism at the inherent unfairness of that seemingly natural order. Both responses reveal a more complex reading of the volunteers' performance and a critique of their misappropriation of traditional forms to defeat the strike.

Keywords: Humour; Narrative; Jokes; Volunteers; Society women; Verbal genres; Personal experience narratives; University; Media; Performance

Chapter.  9516 words. 

Subjects: Social and Cultural History

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