The Laughter Effect: Satire, Comedy and Humor (Panel/In person

deadline for submissions: 
May 1, 2021
full name / name of organization: 
Judith Saunders/Pacific Ancient and Modern Language Association

Special SessionPrimary Area / Secondary AreaGenres and Audiences / Historical and Political StudiesPresiding Officer(s)

Judith Saunders (Independent Scholar)
judi@****.com (Log-in to reveal)

AbstractHumor has traditionally been used in the interest of constructive social criticism. Satire and parody have commonly been weapons of choice to expose the folly of society at large. This panel welcomes papers, analytical or theoretical, which provoke meaningful discussions on the relationship between comedy and society. The analysis may be drawn from diverse textual perspectives: the literary (canonical and contemporary) or from any form of common media. Submissions are welcome that address the conference theme "City of God, City of Destruction," discussing how comedy and satire have exposed the city/citadel or metropole as being a "false god," a flawed cultural icon that glitters while subverting the nation's moral authority.

This session seeks to encourage conversation about comedy as a social coping mechanism – how communal laughter builds social cohesion in the face of societal stressors. The session looks for a wide range of submissions that explore various comedic subgenres, including but not limited to parody, satire, pastiche, burlesque. Papers can key off the media (in and through which comedy is experienced); for instance, literature, theater, standup, late-night television, social media, and submissions that discuss social context:- political hubris/corruption, class/race/gender relations, social conventions. We encourage a wide range of cultural and historical perspectives in order to explore the different comedic modalities and identify points of commonality among them.

The conversation can readily include the conference theme “City of God, City of Destruction,” exploring the use of satire to critique the metropole or the city as the country’s citadel. Possible subjects could include The Birds by Aristophanes, Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels, The Bonfire of the Vanities by Tom Wolfe,andMonty Python’s Life of Brian.