Common Reading

About the Authors

  • Bill Watterson 
  • David Sedaris
  • Dorothy Parker 
  • Matthew Hurley
  • Daniel Dennett
  • Reginald Adams Jr. 
  • Ted Cohen
  • John Morreall
  • Glenda Carpio 
  • Jonathan Swift 
  • Paul Neal Jordan 
  • Larry Wilmore 

      Bill Watterson is an American artist and author best known for his comic strip Calvin and Hobbes. Calvin and Hobbes are named after historical figures—the Protestant Reformer John Calvin, and the 17th century social philosopher Thomas Hobbes. Watterson graduated from Kenyon College with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science. In 1986, he was awarded the National Cartoonists’ Society Reuben Award, and in 1988, the NCS’s Humor Comic Strip Award.

      David Sedaris is an American humorist and author, best known for his autobiographical and self-depreciating sense of humor. Sedaris has written several award-winning, best-selling collections of essays, including Naked, Holidays on Ice, Me Talk Pretty One Day, and most recently, Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls. He graduated from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1987. He resides with his long-term partner in West Sussex, England.

      Dorothy Parker was an American author, poet, screenwriter, and literary critic. She is best known for her wit, wisecracks, and sharp satire. She received the O. Henry Award, and two Oscar nominations (for her screenwriting in A Star is Born (1937) and Smash Up: the Story of a Woman (1947)). Parker died in 1967 at the age of 73.

      Matthew M. Hurley graduated from Tufts University with a Bachelor of Science in Cognitive Science. He is currently a graduate student at Indiana University.

      Daniel Dennett is an American philosopher and cognitive scientist. He received a Bachelor of Arts from Harvard University in 1963, and in 1965 received his Ph.D. from University of Oxford. His research focuses on the philosophy of mind, and philosophy of science. He is the Austin B. Fletcher Professor of Philosophy at Tufts University and the co-director of the Center for Cognitive Studies.

      Reginald B. Adams Jr. earned a Ph.D. in Psychology from Dartmouth College in 2002. He is an Associate Professor of Psychology at the Pennsylvania State University. Adams studies how we extract social and emotional meaning from the nonverbal cues of the face.

      Ted Cohen was a devoted professor of philosophy at University of Chicago from 1967 to his death on March 14, 2014. He earned his undergraduate degree from University of Chicago and both his master’s and doctorate degrees from Harvard University. Although studying jokes began as a hobby, it soon became one of his academic passions, and Cohen was among the first intellectuals to seriously examine the topic of humor. He published his first book, Jokes: Philosophical Thoughts on Joking Matters in 1999.

      John Morreall is a professor of Religious Studies at the College of William and Mary, where he has taught classes on humor for over twenty-five years. Morreall has written five books, including his most well-known book titled Humor Works. His work has been featured in many publications including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and the Washington Post.

      Glenda Carpio graduated from Vassar College with a B.A in Education in 1991. She earned her Education Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkley in 2002. Currently, Carpio is a professor of English and of African and African American Studies at Harvard University. Her book Laughing Fit to Kill: Black Humor in the Fictions of Slavery reassesses the meaning of “black humor” and “dark satire.”

      Jonathan Swift was an Irish author and satirist, who is best known for his 1728 book Gulliver’s Travels. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Trinity College in Dublin. Swift died in 1745.

      Paul Neal Jordan graduated with his B.A. from Duke University in 2013. He currently works as an analyst in the Mergers & Acquisitions group at Piper Jaffray & Co., an international investment bank. In his free time, he enjoys reading and writing about foreign policy and pop culture.

      Larry Wilmore is an Emmy-winning writer, actor and producer. He has written for comedy shows such as The Fresh Prince of Bel Air and The Jamie Fox Show, and co-created The Bernie Mac Show. Wilmore also was a consulting producer for NBC’s The Office. He published his first book in 2009 called I’d Rather We Got Casinos and Other Black Thoughts. Wilmore is currently the Senior Black Correspondent on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.



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