English 166

Special Topics: Comedy & Violence

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
1 Spring 2018 Flynn, Catherine
MWF 2-3 102 Wheeler British 20th- and 21st-Century
Special Topics

Book List

Ades, Dawn: The DADA Reader: A Critical Anthology; Beckett, Samuel: The Complete Dramatic Works of Samuel Beckett; Breton, André: The Anthology of Black Humor; Carroll, Lewis: Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland; Flann, O'Brien: The Poor Mouth: A Bad Story about the Hard Life; Jarry, Alfred: The Ubu Plays; Joyce, James: Ulysses; Synge, J. M.: The Playboy of the Western World

Other Readings and Media

Course reader


What relation does comedy have to violence? Can humor be a gauge of political freedom? How does it resist violence or ally itself with it? In this class, we will consider various styles of humor—wit, buffoonery, satire, parody, nonsense, absurdity, and humour noir—from Irish, English, and French traditions, and consider their connection to force. Beginning in the eighteenth century with Jonathan Swift’s pamphlet, “A Modest Proposal,” the course will focus on fiction and drama from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, as well as spending some time on film. Over the course of the semester, we will consider political, psychoanalytic, literary, critical, and anthropological theories of humor ranging from the Earl of Shaftesbury and William Hazlitt to Sigmund Freud, Mikhail Bakhtin, and Mary Douglas, as well as to recent accounts by Sianne Ngai and Lauren Berlant.

Other Recent Sections of This Course

Spring, 2019
Course & Section Course Name Course Areas
166/1 Special Topics: Gothic Duncan, Ian
166/2 Special Topics: Marxism and Literature Gonzalez, Marcial
166/4 Special Topics: Poetry and Prose of Race and Social Class Giscombe, Cecil S.
166/5 Special Topics: Asian American Literature - World, Nation, Locality Leong, Andrew Way
166/6 Special Topics: Realism, Then and Now Cordes Selbin, Jesse
166/7 Special Topics: Anton Chekhov Muza, Anna
Fall, 2018
Course & Section Course Name Course Areas
166/2 Special Topics: Alfred Hitchcock Bader, Julia
166/3 Special Topics: Journeys: British World-Building, c. 700-1700 Miller, Jasmin
166/4 Special Topics: "this morning's minion": Sonic Mysticism in Gerard Manley Hopkins and Emily Dickinson Stancek, Claire Marie
166/5 Special Topics Le, Serena
Spring, 2018
Course & Section Course Name Course Areas
166/2 Special Topics: Romantic Science Goldstein, Amanda Jo
166/3 Special Topics: Classical & Renaissance Drama Knapp, Jeffrey
166/4 Special Topics: Marxism & Literature Lye, Colleen
166/5 Special Topics: Emily Dickinson Shoptaw, John
166/6 Special Topics: Speculative Fiction Jones, Donna V.
Summer, 2018
Course & Section Course Name Course Areas
166/1 Special Topics: Speculative Fictions, Possible Futures O'Brien, Geoffrey G.
166/2 Special Topics: Games of Thrones, Medieval to Modern Strub, Spencer
Fall, 2017
Course & Section Course Name Course Areas
166/3 Special Topics: Black Science Fiction Serpell, C. Namwali
166/4 Special Topics: Writing Poetry and Nonfiction, Writing as Social Practice Giscombe, Cecil S.
Spring, 2017
Course & Section Course Name Course Areas
166/1 Special Topics: Marxism and Literature Lye, Colleen
166/2 Special Topics: Studies in Literature and Environment (Shelter and Weather) Francois, Anne-Lise
166/3 Special Topics: Slavery and Conspiracy Wagner, Bryan
166/4 Special Topics: Literature in the Century of Film Goble, Mark
166/5 Special Topics: Modern Irish Literature Falci, Eric

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