Comedy and Power Conference

deadline for submissions: 
May 21, 2018
full name / name of organization: 
Mixed Bill: Comedy and Gender Research Network
contact email: 

Mixed Bill’s
Comedy and Power Conference

9th-10th November 2018

Sheffield Hallam University, UK


Keen to build upon the success of our 2017 event Mixed Bill are back to create a space for discussion and action around comedy and marginalisation. The focus of our 2018 event, which will take place at Sheffield Hallam University on 9th and 10th November, will be comedy and power.  This interdisciplinary conference will reflect on the role comedy has played in the fight for equal rights for under-represented groups and how the comic both informs and disrupts political debate. 100 years on from some women attaining the right to vote in the UK we still have a long way to go before equality is achieved for all. Can comedy play a role in the move towards a more equal society or does it hold us back?

This event will look back at historical examples of people using comedy to gain agency, as well as provide an opportunity for discussion about where comedy could take us next. In the wake of the high profile sexual harassment revelations in the US and UK (some of which directly relate to the comedy industry), and the continued gendered and racial pay gaps enacted by (amongst others) publicly funded broadcasters, how far is comedy a force for resistance or for upholding the status quo?  How have activist movements such as Repeal the Eighth and Black Lives Matter engaged with comedy to make political points?

Comedy connects many different research areas including – performance, film and television studies, gender and queer studies, disability studies, post-colonial and Black studies, literature, sociology, visual arts and linguistics. We seek to include a broad range of disciplines and forms of comedy in the programme.

All presentations, workshops and creative responses will be themed around the following areas. 

1) Comedy = Power (How minority and under-represented groups use comedy to gain power/ are empowered and achieve self-definition) 

2) Comedy ≠ Power (The limitations to using comedy to gain power or make political points – the temporary nature of carnival) 

3) Comedy Vs Power (How power structures and those in power are critiqued by/ through comedy)

4) Comedy + Power (How those with power make use of comedy/ humour to maintain power/control) 

We therefore welcome abstracts for 20 minute papers, creative responses or presentations and also 50 minute participatory workshops that connect to any of the stated themes. We are particularly keen to hear from anyone researching anti-racist comedy or instances where comedy has been used to maintain the marginalisation of people of colour.

Please submit abstracts by Monday 21st May. Abstracts should be 250 words maximum in a Word document (not a PDF), with minimal formatting. Please also include (in the same document), and as independent of this word count: name; email and postal address; title and affiliation(s); recent publications / creative outputs; any further relevant biographical information. Decisions to be communicated by 18th June.

If you have any questions please get in contact with the symposiums organisers.

Ellie Tomsett (Sheffield Hallam University), Lisa Moore (University of Salford), Dr Kate Fox (University of Leeds), Natalie Diddams (Manchester Metropolitan University), Dr Suzanne Speidel (Sheffield Hallam University)


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