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Paul M. Zall and the humor in history

Zall Paul M. Zall always found the humor in history.

How many authors and editors have titles such as “Blue & Gray Laughing” and “The Wit & Wisdom of the Founding Fathers?” Zall, a longtime Cal State L.A. professor and Huntington Library scholar who died Dec. 16, found the funny where few others looked.

One of Zall’s sons, Andy, said his father even kept a file cabinet filled with jokes. “He always wrote the underground paper wherever he was,” Andy Zall said. At Cal State L.A., that meant he was the uncredited publisher of "The Weakly Beast.”

The news obituary on Zall can be found here.

-- Keith Thursby

Photo: Paul M. Zall. Credit: Los Angeles Times

 
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Thank you for a wonderful profile of my former instructor, Professor Zall. He was a
gifted teacher with a wonderful sense of humor. In 1967 I was enrolled in his Elements of Satire course. It was a joy to be in that classroom.

While I know he was interested and wrote about U.S. leaders, he once told us that when he was at Harvard he was taught by a professor who had knownNathaniel Hawthorne. The professor said it was important to pass this sense of continuity to the next generation, so Professor Zall taught us the insights that the Harvard prof passed on. I remembered that
advice in my own teaching, sharing with students insights from others to ensure continuity.
Prof. Zall's influence will continue for many generations.

Ali Hernandez
Prof. Emeritus English

He really is a legend. I know nothing but we study his insights. :)


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