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Gehring, Wes D(avid) 1950-

GEHRING, Wes D(avid) 1950-

PERSONAL: Born October 20, 1950, in Postville, IA; son of Gerald D. and Marilyn (McIntyre) Gehring; married Eileen Wood (a social worker), July 1, 1973; children: Sarah, Emily. Education: Northern Iowa Area Community College, A.A., 1971; University of Iowa, B.A. (with honors), 1973, M.A., 1974, Ph.D., 1977. Politics: Democrat. Religion: Methodist.

ADDRESSES: Home—1400 W. Gilbert St., Muncie, IN 47303. Office—Department of Telecommunications, Ball State University, Muncie, IN 47306. E-mail[email protected]

CAREER: Ball State University, Muncie, IN, professor of telecommunications, 1978—; writer. Host of weekly film review program, "Now Showing," on WIPB-TV (Muncie, IN).

MEMBER: International Society for Humor Studies, Midwest Writers.

AWARDS, HONORS: Rockefeller fellowship, 1974-75, travel grant, 1975; Outstanding Young Faculty Award, 1982-83, and Outstanding Researcher Award, 1985-86, Ball State University; grant from National Endowment for the Arts, 1988.

WRITINGS:

Leo McCarey and the Comic Anti-Hero in American Film, Arno (New York, NY), 1980.

Charlie Chaplin's World of Comedy (monograph), Ball State University Press (Muncie, IN), 1980.

Charlie Chaplin: A Bio-Bibliography, Greenwood Press (Westport, CT), 1983.

Screwball Comedy: Defining a Film Genre (monograph), Ball State University Press (Muncie, IN), 1983.

W. C. Fields: A Bio-Bibliography, Greenwood Press (Westport, CT), 1984.

Screwball Comedy: A Genre of Madcap Romance, Greenwood Press (Westport, CT), 1986.

The Marx Brothers: A Bio-Bibliography, Greenwood Press (Westport, CT), 1987.

(Editor and contributor) Handbook of American Film Genres, Greenwood Press (Westport, CT), 1988.

Laurel and Hardy: A Bio-Bibliography, Greenwood Press (Westport, CT), 1990.

"Mr. B," or, Comforting Thoughts about the Bison: A Critical Biography of Robert Benchley, Greenwood Press (Westport, CT), 1992.

Groucho and W. C. Fields: Huckster Comedians, University Press of Mississippi (Jackson, MS), 1994.

Populism and the Capra Legacy, Greenwood Press (Westport, CT), 1995.

American Dark Comedy: Beyond Satire, Greenwood Press (Westport, CT), 1996.

Personality Comedians as Genre: Selected Players, Greenwood Press (Westport, CT), 1997.

Parody as Film Genre: Never Give a Saga an Even Break, Greenwood Press (Westport, CT), 1999.

Film Classics Reclassified: A Shocking Spoof of Cinema, Robin Vincent Publishing (Davenport, IA), 2001.

(With R. Karl Largent) The Curmudgeon Rides Again: A Perfect Bathroom Companion, Robin Vincent Publishing (Davenport, IA), 2001.

The World of Comedy: Five Takes on Funny, Robin Vincent Publishing (Davenport, IA), 2001.

Seeing Red: The Skeleton in Hollywood's Closet, Robin Vincent Publishing (Davenport, IA), 2001.

Romantic vs. Screwball Comedy: Charting the Difference, Scarecrow Press (Lanham, MD) 2002.

Carole Lombard: The Hoosier Tornado, Indiana Historical Society Press (Indianapolis, IN), 2003.

Irene Dunne: First Lady of Hollywood, Scarecrow Press (Lanham, MD), 2003.

Mr. Deeds Goes to Yankee Stadium: Baseball Films in the Capra Tradition, McFarland (Jefferson, NC), 2004.

James Dean: Rebel with a Cause, Indiana Historical Society Press (Indianapolis, IN), 2005.

Leo McCarey: From Marx to McCarthy, Scarecrow Press (Lanham, MD), 2005.

Contributor of essays and poems to anthologies, including Humor in America, edited by Lawrence E. Mintz, Greenwood Press (Westport, CT), 1988, and The Picture Dancing on a Screen: Poetry of the Cinema, edited by Anthony Slide, Vestal, 1988. Contributor to periodicals, including American Humor, Indiana Social Studies Quarterly, Blackhawk Film Digest, Journal of Popular Film and Television, Forum, and Thalia: A Journal of Studies in Literary Humor. Contributing editor and author of column, "The Reel World," for USA Today Magazine. Author of column, "Comedy Corner," for Muncie Star.

WORK IN PROGRESS: A novel; a collection of filmrelated poetry.

SIDELIGHTS: Wes D. Gehring is a film scholar who has published several books on movies and actors, many of them on comedy and comedians. His subjects include the Marx Brothers, the comedy team of Laurel and Hardy, Charlie Chaplin, and comic actress Carole Lombard. In American Dark Comedy: Beyond Satire, Gehring identifies the "dark" comedy as one with grim, violent humor. He presents several examples of the genre and discusses their significance. Lawrence E. Mintz, a contributor to Journal of Popular Film and Television, appreciated the author's "attempts to establish contexts for dark comedy in Western literature from Aristophanes to the postmodernists," and continued: "Gehring is correct in noting that dark comedy did not just emerge out of nowhere in the post-World War II cultural environment. It can be traced back to the cynical and ironic views of life" that flourished around war time, "particularly the comic potential of juxtaposing violence and the grotesque with a refusal to take them seriously or to be unduly saddened by them." The critic did fault the book for being superficial in parts, but he concluded that American Dark Comedy is "surely worth reading. It will be a contribution to a larger literature that is emerging and developing on the artistic and philosophic relationship among comedy and violence, horror, the grotesque, and the absurd."

Gehring examined another form of comedy in his book Parody as Film Genre: Never Give a Saga an Even Break. He outlines seven characteristics that identify a film as parody, distinguishes between parody and satire, and makes note of the cultural influences that have shaped modern filmmaking. While his subject "could have been a literary quagmire by a less skilled author," as Ron Briley said in an Film History review, in Gehring's hands it is "a logical, sequential guided tour."

The life of actress Carole Lombard was Gehring's subject in Carole Lombard: The Hoosier Tornado. Lombard, who became best-known as an actress in socalled "screwball" comedies, was lauded for her comic timing, her glamorous good looks, and her likeable personality. Married to Clark Gable, she was also onehalf of one of Hollywood's greatest celebrity couples. A tireless worker for the defense effort during World War II, she traveled extensively to promote the use of war bonds. She was in the middle of one such trip when her plane crashed over a mountain range. Lombard and all her party perished in the accident. In his book, Gehring tells the story of her life, recounts many anecdotes that illustrate her sparkling personality, and critiques each of her films. A Publishers Weekly reviewer noted: "Gehring is clearly in love with his subject and details Lombard's life, times and some delicious backstage gossip with a historian's eye and a biographer's appetite for discovery."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

periodicals

Choice, July-August, 1995, K. S. Nolley, review of Groucho and W. C. Fields: Huckster Comedians, p. 1737; February, 2000, T. Lindvall, review of Parody as Film Genre: Never Give a Saga an Even Break, p. 1110.

ETC.: A Review of General Semantics, summer, 1990, William Coleman, Jr., review of Handbook of American Film Genres, p. 202.

Film Quarterly, summer, 1984, review of Charlie Chaplin: A Bio-Bibliography, p. 60; summer, 1985, Ernest Callenbach, review of W. C. Fields: A Bio-Bibliography, p. 38; summer, 1988, Charles Musser, review of The Marx Brothers: A Bio-Bibliography, p. 32.

Journal of Popular Film and Television, fall, 1989, Chris Foran, review of Handbook of American Film Genres, p. 127; summer, 1997, Lawrence E. Mintz, review of American Dark Comedy: Beyond Satire, p. 91.

Library Journal, August, 1988, Richard Grefrath, review of Handbook of American Film Genres, p. 172; August, 2003, Rosalind Dayden, review of Carole Lombard: The Hoosier Tornado, p. 86; June 1, 2005, Rosellen Brewer, review of James Dean: Rebel with a Cause, p. 73.

Publishers Weekly, June 2, 2003, review of Carole Lombard, p. 41.

Record (Bergen County, NJ), October 26, 2003, Carole Goldberg, "Fans followed her lead when she added an 'e'," p. E03.

Studies in American Humor, 1999, Siva Vaidhyanathan, review of Personality Comedians as Genre: Selected Players, p. 89.

online

Film History, http://www.h-net.org/~filmhis/ (2001), Ron Briley, review of Parody as Film Genre: Never Give a Saga an Even Break.*

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