English 203

Graduate Readings: Comedy and Violence

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
3 Spring 2020 Flynn, Catherine
TTh 12:30-2 180 Barrows

Book List

Beckett, Samuel: Complete Dramatic Works; Breton, André: Anthology of Black Humor ; Jarry, Alfred: The Ubu Plays; Lewis, Wyndham, et al.: BLAST; O'Brien, Flann: The Poor Mouth: A Bad Story about the Hard Life; Rabelais, Francois: Gargantua and Pantagruel; Swift, Jonathan: Gulliver's Travels; Synge, J. M.: The Playboy of the Western World; Voltaire: Candide

Other Readings and Media

Additional readings will be available on bCourses.


What relation does comedy have to violence? Can humor be a gauge of political freedom? This transhistorical seminar will examine the relation between comedy and violence in Irish, English and French texts from the sixteenth to the twentieth centuries. As we read novels, plays, poems, and theoretical works, we will consider comedy as both a literary category and an aesthetic mode. Reflecting on these works with, and against, theories of humor from Aristotle through Freud to Deleuze, we will also situate them in their political and historical contexts. Over the course of the semester, we will also reflect on various styles of humor—wit, buffoonery, satire, parody, nonsense, absurdity, and humour noir—and consider their connection to force.

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