Ph.D., University of Michigan
Don Nilsen's areas of specialization within English Linguistics are Semantics, Pragmatics, and Discourse Theory. He is especially interested in sophisticated discourse; therefore, he studies the nature of Double Entendre, Symbolism, Metaphor, Irony, Parody, Paradox, Wit, Symbolism, Humor, Comedy and Tragi-comedy.
As the Co-Founders of the International Society for Humor Studies, Don and Alleen Nilsen regularly make presentations for the Arizona Humanities Council on such topics as "Humor: Features, Functions and Subjects," "Some Humorous Analogues between Language and Art," "Literary Onomastics: Names and Naming in Young Adult Literature," "The Recycling of Visual Symbols in Political Cartoons," and "Afghanistan: A Country at the Crossroads." Don also teaches a humor course for graduate students (LIN 655: Linguistic Humor across the Disciplines), and one for undergraduate students (ENG 414: Linguistic Humor and Language Play). PowerPoints for these courses (and his other courses) can be found in his web site: http://www.public.asu.edu/~dnilsen ). The second edition of Don and Alleen Nilsen's Pronunciation Contrasts (Waveland Press, 2010) is expanded to include a large section entitled, "English Spelling as a Morphophonemic System." This is an application of Chomsky and Halle's Sound Patterns of English.
Nilsen, Alleen Pace, and Don L. F. Nilsen. Names and Naming in Young Adult Literature. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press, 2007.
Nilsen, Alleen P. and Don L.F. Nilsen. Vocabulary Plus High School and Up: A Source-Based Approach. Boston: Pearson Allyn & Bacon, 2004.
Nilsen, Alleen P. and Don L.F. Nilsen. Vocabulary Plus K-8: A Source-Based Approach. Boston: Pearson Allyn & Bacon, 2004.
Nilsen, Don L. F. and Alleen Pace Nilsen. Pronunciation Contrasts in English. Long Grove, IL: Waveland Press, 2002.
Nilsen, Alleen Pace, and Don L. F. Encyclopedia of 20th Century American Humor. Phoenix, AZ: Oryx Press, 2000.
Nilsen, Don L. F. Humor in Twentieth-Century British Literature: A Reference Guide. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2000.
Nilsen, Don L. F. Humor in Eighteenth-and Nineteenth-Century British Literature: A Reference Guide. Westport, CT: Greenwood, 1998.
Nilsen, Don L. F. Humor in British Literature, From the Middle Ages to the Restoration: A Reference Guide. Westport, CT: Greenwood, 1997.
Nilsen, Don L. F. Humor in Irish Literature: A Reference Guide. Westport, CT: Greenwood, 1996.
Nilsen, Don L. F. Humor in American Literature: A Selected Annotated Bibliography. New York: Garland, 1992.
Nilsen, Don L. F. Humor Scholarship: A Research Bibliography. Westport, CT: Greenwood, 1993.
Laurian, Anne-Marie, and Don L. F. Nilsen, eds. Humor and Translation. Special Issue of META: Journal des Traducteurs. 34.1 (March 1989), 1989.
Nilsen, Don L. F., and Alleen Pace Nilsen. Language Play: An Introduction to Linguistics. New York, NY: Newbury House, 1977.
Don and Alleen Nilsen established an affiliate of the Workshop Library on World Humor, which they named “Western Humor and Irony Membership” so that they could use the acronym WHIM. they changed “Western” to “World” when they held international conferences between 1981 and 1987 here on the ASU campus. The year after each conference, they published the proceedings under the title of Western Humor and Irony Membership Serial Yearbook (WHIMSY). The International Society for Humor Studies (ISHS) grew out of these initial conferences. Annual meetings are now held outside of the United States in even-numbered years and in the U. S. in odd-numbered years. The organization’s quarterly Humor: International Journal of Humor Research is in its 21st year. Nilsen served as executive secretary of the organization until 2005 and is still the organization’s historian. As the Executive Secretary he was responsible for coordinating and providing the infrastructure for the annual meetings which were held in the following places: Purdue University, Indiana (1988), BYU Hawaii (1989); Sheffield, England (1990); St. Catherines, Canada (1991); Paris, France (1992); Miami University in Luxembourg (1993); Ithaca, New York (1994); Birmingham, England (1995); Sydney, Australia (1996); Edmond, Oklahoma (19997): Bergen, Norway (1998); Oakland, California (1999); Osaka, Japan (2000), College Park, Maryland (2001); Forli, Italy (2002): Chicago, Illinois (2003); Dijon, France (2004); Youngstown, Ohio (2005); Copenhagen, Denmark (2006); Newport, Rhode Island (2007); Alcala, Spain (2008), Long Beach, California (2009), and Hong Kong, China (2010). In 2011, the ISHS conference will be held in Boston, Massachusetts. As the ISHS historian, Don Nilsen helps with the conferences and supplies young humor scholars with bibliographies, PowerPoints and flash drives to provide a foundation for their on-going humor research.