CCAD Professor Promotes Marx Brother to Trickster

November 11th, 2011 by Katlin McNally
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Harpo Marx is known as the curly haired silent member of cinema’s Marx Brothers but a CCAD Liberal Arts professor is bringing him into the ranks of a literary trickster.

Charlene Fix, associate professor and chair of English & Philosophy, is an avid fan of the character and ten years ago had the idea to have his film persona become a trickster figure. Her research of Harpo Marx lasted years and this last summer she completed the first draft of her book.

The working title of her book is, Harpo Marx as Trickster: Why We Love Him, Why We Laugh at Him, Why He Seems Divine. Her book will discuss her reasoning on the character who captures the complexity and disruption needed to be considered a literary trickster.

A trickster figure is a literary term to describe a character that plays tricks or otherwise disobeys normal behavior. Some well known characters within the category of tricksters are the Brer Rabbit and The Joker from the Batman comics.

“I bought DVD’s of all the films and watched them over and over and over again, laughing unto tears, taking notes, drafting, revising, and writing more,” Fix said.

Fix will be conducting talks and discussions on the topic in various locations over the next year. She recently spoke at the School of Visual Arts Conference in New York City. This was her second year attending the conference.

She gave a 15 minute read of her proposal, Harpo Marx as Trickster, and accompanied it with images and film clips of the character.

“I submitted my proposal to the conference because I felt my work was similar to the conference topic, Crossing Borders, and my program had a very positive response from the audience.”

The conference was the twenty-fifth annual national conference on liberal arts and the education of artists. It consisted of round table presentations and talks on the arts.

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One Response to “CCAD Professor Promotes Marx Brother to Trickster”

  1. junior says:

    Huge fan of Harpo’s, too! His trickster bits in “Duck Soup” are probably his best, but I have loved him in every one of the Marx Brothers movies. His book (“Harpo Speaks”) is really funny and also really sweet!