David Gillota to Publish New Book


Morgan Fuerstenberg graphic

Dr. David Gillota, associate professor of English, has been busy. Recently, he was named the editor of the journal Studies in American Humor, a twice-a-year academic journal. Dr. Gillota was also elected to be the department chair for the Humanities Department beginning this July. Then, in mid-July, his book chronicling humor in horror, “Dead Funny,” is being released by Rutgers University Press.

Department Chair of Humanities
Dr. Gillota began his education path at the University of North Texas,
earning his B.A. in English in 2000 and continuing at North Texas to earn his M.A. in English in 2003.

Dr. Gillota, accompanying his wife, Dr. Amanda Tucker, professor of English here at UW-Platteville,  attended the University of Miami and earned his Ph.D. in English in 2008. His dissertation was “Belly Laughs: Body Humor in Contemporary American Literature and Film.”

After completing his Ph.D., Dr. Gillota accompanied Dr. Tucker to Platteville, where they were both hired in the English department.

He was first hired as a lecturer until fall 2013 when he was moved to assistant professor of English. In the same year, his first book, “Ethnic Humor in Multiethnic America,” was published by Rutgers University Press.

Dr. Gillota was promoted again in spring 2019 to associate professor. Beginning this July, he will become the chair of the Humanities department after Dr. Shane Defcinski’s second three-year term as chair ends.

Editor at Studies of American Humor

Dr. Gillota’s time with SAH began in 2016 when he was approached
about a position on the editorial board.

“I’d written my first book, and I’d also written a handful of articles here and there about humor stuff,” Dr. Gillota noted. “One of those articles was published in the journal and I’d written a couple of book reviews for them, too. So, I was kind of on the radar, I guess, as a good humor scholar.”

He continued: “The editor of the journal at the time, an awesome woman and distinguished humor scholar named Judith Yaross Lee, sent me an email and invited me to join the journal’s team as the Book Review Editor.”

The Book Review Editor is tasked with finding new books on humor, finding reviewers and collecting review material. 

In 2018, the editorial staff shifted. Dr. Gillota moved up to Associate Editor, working with the new editor at the time, Larry Howe, until 2022 when Howe’s five-year term came to an end. At that point, Dr. Gillota was selected as editor.

The editorial staff, comprised of humor scholars across the country, meets through Zoom and corresponds through emails throughout the year to produce the journal.

This July, the American Humor Studies Association will be hosting it’s first in-person conference since the COVID-19 pandemic. The SAH is affiliated with the AHSA.

Upcoming Release of “Dead Funny”
Finally, Dr. Gillota has his second book
coming out. “I’ve been a longtime fan of horror movies, and I taught about some in my film classes. I’ve taught little mini units on horror movies before and got really into it. I had been faculty for some time, and a thing came up for sabbatical applications,” Dr. Gillota explained.

He elaborated on the genesis of the book and how it was similar to his first book: “I had this idea that I wanted to do something with horror. Once again, I thought, ‘what’s the angle that I can do?’ And it’s humor because that’s always my angle… It’s one of the cool things about Platteville. My job is to teach Ethnic American Literature, and I do that, and I do it well. But I can say, ‘I want to go on sabbatical to write a book about horror movies.’”

The University approved his sabbatical for spring 2021. From the beginning of the year until the start of the fall semester, he spent his time watching movies, reading books, and synthesizing how humor and horror intersect, intertwine, and intervene with each other.