Spring 2021

21L.021 Comedy Wyn Kelley MW 11:00-12:30p Virtual

Prereq: none
3-0-9 HASS-H, CI-H
Topics: Twentieth Century and Contemporary Culture

Comedy, the most elastic of literary and performance modes, skewers artifice, topples authority, and reverses expectations, not with the fatal outcomes of tragedy but with laughter and festivity. This class examines the deep roots and current forms of comedy, with a particular focus on the mechanisms and mysteries of comic insurrection. We will revel in Greek, Roman, and Shakespearean drama and the bawdy humor of Rabelais; explore Aphra Behn’s eighteenth-century theater of feminist rakes in The Rover; investigate romantic comedy, parody, and social satire in Jane Austen and Oscar Wilde; peek under the covers of small-town family life in Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home; and observe the uneasy relationship between farce and romantic love, violence and redemptive humor, satire and festivity in comic art. Discussion will frequently draw on examples of popular and contemporary forms, including political humor, stand-up, and sketch comedy.