Ben Click

Professor of English

Ben Click


Ben Click is a Professor of English at St. Mary’s College of Maryland, Director of the Writing & Speaking Center, and Director of the Twain Lecture Series on American Humor Culture. With Larry Howe and Jim Caron, he co-edited and contributed to Refocusing Chaplin: A Screen Icon in Critical Contexts (Scarecrow, 2013). His most current article, “Rhetorical Listening, Silence, and Cultural (dis)Identifications in Adventures of Huckleberry Finn: Revisiting the ‘Raft Episode’ Again, Ugh! Was the lead article in the 2018 issue of The Mark Twain Annual. In 2019 he will become only the fourth editor of this Annual, published by Penn State University Press. His current book-length project explores the rhetorical effects of silence in the works of Mark Twain. With his colleague, Professor Brian O’Sullivan, he is also working on an article that examines humor as a rhetorical strategy in environmental writing, a genre that is sometimes seen as taking itself too seriously. He teaches classes on rhetoric and poetics, southern literature, American humor, Mark Twain, and all varieties of writing courses. In 2014 he was awarded the Norton L. Dodge Award for Excellence in Teaching.

Areas of Research Specialization

  • Applied Rhetoric
  • American Humor
  • Mark Twain

Areas of Teaching Specialization

  • Rhetoric and Poetics; Rhetoric and Composition
  • Southern Literature


  • B.A. in English at Stephen F. Austin State University, 1980
  • M.A. in English at Stephen F. Austin State University, 1982
  • Ph.D. in English at The Pennsylvania State University, 1994


  • Refocusing Chaplin: A Screen Icon through Critical Lenses

    One effective method of teaching theory is to focus on a popular text and provide competing interpretations. Howe, Caron, and Click gather a cluster of such perspectives as they converge on the polysemic, iconic auteur filmmaker Charlie Chaplin. Offering a wide range of theoretical perspectives–Marxism, feminism, psychoanalysis–contributors exhume and dissect the body of Chaplin and his work, studying his screen persona and public celebrity. The approach serves both to highlight neglected aspects of the complex artist and to illumine theory. Charles Maland's introductory essay inaugurates this conversation by exploring the enduring appeal of both Chaplin and his cinematic persona Charlie. In his phenomenological study of Charlie's kinesic slapstick, Caron shows the clown as clumsy fool, 'ironic trickster,' and comic acrobat. Several essays offer particularly fascinating perspectives, especially Cynthia Miller's 'A Heart of Gold: Charlie and the Dance Hall Girls' and Click's rhetorical analysis of The Great Dictator. The critical collisions and cross-fertilizations among the contributors foster a lively, worthwhile intellectual exchange.

    Summing Up: Recommended.

    Upper-division undergraduates through faculty. (CHOICE)