MVC Professor Releases New Book

August 22, 2017
Missouri Valley College

Missouri Valley College Assistant Professor of English Dr. Claire Schmidt recently released her new book entitled “If you Don’t Laugh You’ll Cry: The Occupational Humor of White Wisconsin Prison Workers” published by the University of Wisconsin Press in the Folklore Studies in a Multicultural World series.

The book focuses on the experiences of correctional officers, social workers, doctors, nurses, and other staff in the Wisconsin Department of Corrections. There is a disproportionate number of men and women of color incarcerated in the Wisconsin prison system, putting white prison workers in a complicated social position. Dr. Schmidt’s book centers around the individuals in this complicated social position, focusing on how they use storytelling, practical jokes, quick wit, sarcasm and verbal agility to continue working in the prison system.

“We can learn a lot about race, class, work, and incarceration in America by listening to the stories of the men and women who work in America’s prisons,” Dr, Schmidt said. “Prison workers use humor to build relationships with each other and with inmates; humor helps people get through the stress of the day and it creates an opportunity to talk about the frustration, sorrow, and solidarity of the job.”

A reception will be held for the release of Dr. Schmidt’s book at at 3:15 p.m. on Wednesday, August 30  in the Murrell Library Reading Room on the Missouri Valley College campus. There will be a brief overview of the project by the author, an informal question and answer period and a book signing at the reception. Refreshments will be provided.

Copies of the book will be available for purchase at the reception. The book is also available for purchase online at

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