English 166

Special Topics: Comedy & Violence

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
1 Spring 2018 Flynn, Catherine
MWF 2-3 102 Wheeler

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

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