Mary Roach: Finding Levity in Heavy Subjects

By Paricha Duangtaweesub, Naomi Bagdonas, Jennifer Aaker
2018 | Case No. M375 | Length 7 pgs.
Mary Roach established a name for herself with a series of humorous articles on the human body, then became a best-selling author of books like Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers, and Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal. How did she choose her topics? Roach explained, “Well, it’s got to have a little science, it’s got to have a little history, a little humor—and something gross.” This case study explores Roach’s career as a writer who used humor to tackle the topics nobody wanted to discuss, much less write about. Humor, Roach realized, could offer a fresh perspective, defuse tensions, and build empathy—but also provide information in a novel way.

Learning Objective

Students will discuss and explore the various ways humor and storytelling can be used strategically in a business context, specifically looking at how levity can be an effective way to convey important information.
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