CMNS 369 - Performance Of Humor

This course provides a critical and performative exploration into the role of humor and comedy in our social world. Often layered, complex, and contested, the communicative and critical workings of humor mark an ongoing site of cultural struggle, cultural tension, and heated debate. This course engages humor from a performative lens, which calls for us to consider the embodied, contextual, relational, historical, and political dimensions of comedy. The first unit in the course offers a broad theoretical framework to discuss the doings of humor, as well as providing a foundational class vocabulary in the concepts of satire, irony, parody, ideology, performance, performativity, and the absurd. The second section looks to the construction of the ironic persona as a site of humor and a tool for cultural criticism, reflection, and parody. The third unit, coinciding with the November election, looks to political satire as a tool for questioning, challenging, and complicating sedimented cultural systems, performances, and beliefs. Finally, the last unit broadens out our understanding of comedy to explore the notion of harmony, looking to humor as a space for disrupting hierarchies of power and building alternative forms of community.
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Fall 2018
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