Date of Award


Level of Access Assigned by Author

Campus-Only Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Fine Arts (MFA)




Nate Aldrich

Second Committee Member

Randall Regier

Third Committee Member

Owen F. Smith


The history of humor is well documented in the areas of theater, literature and comedy entertainment, but not in the area of fine art. Artists have been using humor as a mode of social agitation for many years, but until recent years this line of attack has not been given the appropriate scholarly review and feedback that it deserves and needs in order to continue to develop. A subset of humor explored in this manuscript is humor as a strategic form of protest against oppressive systems.

The research presented here identifies three distinct ways in which artist's employ the use of humor as a form of protest: by the humorist portraying a victim, an oppressor, and finally, a cultural commentator in situations in which a clear injustice has occurred. Each of these strategic portrayals of a humorist challenging an unjust action by an oppressive system serves to highlight the sometimes-unobvious ways in which oppression is occurring or the levels of harmful affects that the oppression has on its victims.

Finally, this thesis also identifies social media as a contemporary form of oppression on freedom of speech and outlines three projects that use the strategies of victim, oppressor, and commentator that demonstrate the ways in which social media is a contemporary system of oppression.