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Carolyn Dever

Carolyn Dever

1. When you hear the old shibboleth that “women don’t have a sense of humor” or are “less funny than men,” your immediate response is_______________.

Well, biology is destiny. Have you ever seen a penis?

2. Were you funny as a kid? Were you funnier (or less funny) as teenager?

As a kid, I was not in the least bit funny; my face appeared in the dictionary next to the word “earnest.” As a teenager, family life went off the rails, and funny became a survival strategy learned from my younger brother.

3. What’s the most notable way your life would be different if you didn’t have your sense of humor?

It would be nowhere near a glamorous and dazzling, obvs.

4. If you could have a magnificent dinner with three women—real, fictional, mythological—who would you choose as your guests?

That’s easy! Could you get me an invitation to the party scene in Caryl Churchill’s Top Girls? I could join Marlene, Lady Nijo, Pope Joan, Patient Griselde, and Isabella Bird. You could come too.

5. Do you think those closest to you admire you for your sense of humor—or despite your sense of humor?

They are in captivity with me, and they have no choice.

Carolyn Dever is a professor of English and Creative Writing at Dartmouth College. After 14 years in senior university leadership, Carolyn is writing a book about the diaries of the late-Victorian poet “Michael Field”—nom de plume of an aunt and niece who were also lovers. Carolyn shares a raucous home life with her spouse, Paul “Film Guy” Young, chair of the Dartmouth Film and Media Studies department, as well as their elementary school-age son, and a genial and unexpectedly enormous dog and two cats, one of whom is not a hermaphrodite.


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