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Noncredit Seminar in Black Humor Is Offered by South House Tutors

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Four Radcliffe South House tutors are offering a noncredit seminar on black humor this semester which may develop into an accredited course next year, Willard F. Keeney, teaching fellow in English, said yesterday.

The seminar, which meets at 9 p.m. on Thursday in Bertram Hall, will focus on "black humor as a modern mode of response to experience," Keeney said. Students in the seminar will read works by such writers as William Faulkner and Samuel Beckett. They also may discuss some of Kafka's writings.

Keeney said the course would examine what black humor means in terms of current values and why it is so appreciated now. It will explore black humor's relation to comedy and tragedy and will try to determine what black humor's peculiar qualities are.

Keeney said that the tutors had originally hoped to give the course credit, but were not allowed to by the General Education Program because they applied too late. He said he hoped that the seminar will receive course credit next year as Harvard House seminars do now.

Keeney added that if the seminar had been given for credit this year, its syllabus would have included more pre-World War II writers since the seminar instructors know these authors best. The seminar would also have been more rigorous. As it is, the course will be very loosely structured, on the order of a graduate seminar. Students can suggest whatever topics if discussion they wish. "We're as much babes in the woods as any of the students on the subject," Keeney said.

Other tutors giving the seminar are Matthew I. Winston, teaching fellow in English, Sister Regina Kyle, and Murray M. Fairweather, teaching fellow in History. Five students--four from Radcliffe and one from Harvard--attended the first course meeting.

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