Interested in preserving her family folklore, Jeannie B. Thomas recorded detailed oral histories from her mother and two grandmothers. While analyzing the tapes of these sessions, she notices the inappropriate laughter often accompanied the retelling of painful stories. In this book, Thomas combines these personal narratives with original scholarship drawing on the work of Mikhail Bakhtin and Julia Kristeva to uncover meaning behind the startling presence of unconventional laughter in women's histories.

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