OGDEN — “There are only two kinds of people who smile all the time: fools and Americans.”
“It’s a great, old Russian saying,” said Susan Matt, Weber State University history department chairwoman and professor. “Americans tend to seem happy all the time, even if they are not, underneath.”
Matt just returned from an Organization of American Historians fellowship that took her to Germany to teach a university course about emotions in United States history.
And although most of her students at the University of Tübingen were fluent in English, Matt did encounter the occasional cultural divide.
“I would say something and pause for a laugh, and there would be deafening silence,” Matt recalled with a laugh. “I would realize that a joke didn’t translate. So I suggested someone write a paper on American humor, and the differences between German and American humor.”...