James Geary

Wit is often thought of as simply being funny. But wit is more than just having a knack for snappy comebacks. There is the serendipitous wit of scientists, the crafty wit of inventors, the optical wit of artists, the improvisational wit of musicians, and the metaphysical wit of philosophers. Wit is the quick, instinctive intelligence that allows us to think, say or do the right thing at the right time in the right place.

James Geary explores every facet of wittiness, bringing the subject to life by writing each chapter in a style that exemplifies a different kind of wit. The chapter on witty verbal repartee is written as a dramatic dialogue; the chapter on the neuroscience of wit is written as a scientific paper; the chapter on the spirituality of wit is written as a sermon. There are also sections written in jive, rap and the heroic couplets of Alexander Pope.

Wit’s End shows how wit is a state of mind as well as a sense of humor and why wit and wisdom are really the same thing.

James Geary is the deputy curator of the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard, editor of Nieman Reports, and former editor of the European edition of Time magazine. He is the author of Wit’s End: What Wit Is, How It Works, and Why We Need It, I Is an Other: The Secret Life of Metaphor and How It Shapes the Way We See the World, Geary’s Guide to the World’s Great Aphorists, the New York Times bestseller The World in a Phrase: A Brief History of the Aphorism, and The Body Electric: An Anatomy of The New Bionic Senses.

Thursday, October 3, 5:15 p.m. Shambaugh Auditorium, Main Library, 125 West Washington Street, Iowa City, IA 52242

Friday, October 4, 4 p.m. English-Philosophy Building (EPB), 251 W Iowa Ave, Iowa City, IA 52242

Saturday, October 5, 1 p.m. Iowa City Masonic Building, 312 College St. Iowa City, IA 52240