This class considers comedy in drama, narrative, and film spanning more than 2000 years. We will look at examples of Greek, Roman, and Shakespearean drama and the bawdy stories of Boccaccio, Chaucer, and Rabelais; investigate the romantic comedy and social satire of Jane Austen and Oscar Wilde; and try to understand the uneasy relationship between farce and romantic love, violence and redemptive humor, satire and festivity in comic art. We will note certain continuities: the body as object and source of rebellious pleasure; transgression against social norms corrected and reordered through laughter; verbal play and wit; identity and mistaken identity; political protest and social reform. As the class develops, we will also note the ways writers appropriate and reshape comic plots and structures from the past for new uses.