ENGL S-185. Wit, Irony, and Comedy

Instructor: Thomas Wisniewski, PhD
Lecturer on Comparative Literature
Day & Time: Mondays & Wednesdays 3:15–6:15pm (EDT)
Summer 7-week session | CRN 33785
Limited to 45 Students

In literature, as in life, humor often takes us by surprise. Why? Laughter, in many ways, is a mystery, and literary criticism has always been more comfortable dealing with tragedy than comedy. Taking comedy seriously, this course provides a broad investigation into the myriad functions of humor (psychological, sociological, philosophical, and dramatic) and explores why what we find funny changes in relation to shifting social, cultural, and historical contexts. Topics include wit and wordplay; the differences between verbal wit and visual humor; the phenomenon of laughing; satire and irony; jokes and joking; sexual humor and the taboo; humor in performance; the roles of ethnicity, race, religion, and gender in humor. Readings include literary works from Shakespeare to the present day, as well as theater history, performance, film, television, stand-up, and cartoons.

Optional sections to be arranged.

This course meets via live web conference. Students must attend and participate at the scheduled meeting time.