Rebecca Krefting, who goes by Beck, earned a BA in English and Psychology at the University of Alabama, Huntsville and an MA in Women’s Studies at Ohio State University (OSU). She completed her doctorate in American Studies at the University of Maryland, College Park (UMD). Beck’s research specializations are studies in humor and laughter; performance studies; gender, sexuality and race/ethnicity studies of visual and popular culture; identity and difference; women’s history; cultural studies; feminist, disability and comic theatre; and pedagogical studies.
She is currently working on a monograph titled: All Joking Aside: American Humor and Its Discontents (Johns Hopkins University Press, forthcoming). In this examination of 21st century stand-up comedy, Krefting establishes a new genre of comedic production—charged humor—and charts its pathway(s) from production to consumption. Her arguments have implications for how every American consumes humor—why we make the choices we do and the collective power of our consumptive practices.
Besides researching and publishing in the field of humor studies, Beck has published work in disability education and theater. Recent publications include: “Laughter in the Final Instance: The Cultural Economy of Humor,” an essay included in the edited anthology The Laughing Stalk (Parlor Press, 2012) and a co-authored chapter on feminist architectural education entitled “Placing Space: Architecture, Action, Dimension—Pedagogy and Practice,” published in Feminist Practices: Interdisciplinary Approaches to Women in Architecture (Ashgate Publishing Ltd., 2011). She has presented her research nationally and internationally, been invited to lecture about humor, and was a PAGE (publicly active graduate education) Fellow for Imagining America (2007).
Drawing from her own training and experiences as a stand-up comic and improv actress, Beck spent six years working as co-director of the Comedy Club, a youth comedy theater program teaching young people how to write and perform sketch comedy and improvisational humor. While no longer able to co-direct, she continues to serve as board member of the Comedy Academy, the non-profit organization managing the program in Silver Spring, Maryland.
Beck began teaching interdisciplinary courses ten years ago (many of which she developed), including courses in women’s history and literature, diversity and identity, critical whiteness, popular culture, contemporary American cultures, social deviance, US humor and the history of comic performance. She was recognized for excellence in teaching at OSU when she was nominated for a graduate teaching award in 2004 and again at UMD when the Center for Teaching Excellence named her a Graduate Teaching Fellow (2009-10). Her work is transdisciplinary and interdisciplinary and she has taught in many disciplines including Women’s Studies, American Studies, African American Studies, Gender Studies and in UMD’s Honors Humanities Program as a Doctoral Teaching Fellow.
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