Comic Transactions: Literature, Humor, and the Politics of Community in Twentieth-Century Britain

Comic Transactions: Literature, Humor, and the Politics of Community in Twentieth-Century Britain

Comic Transactions: Literature, Humor, and the Politics of Community in Twentieth-Century Britain

Comic Transactions: Literature, Humor, and the Politics of Community in Twentieth-Century Britain

Excerpt

To understand laughter, we must put it back into its natural environment, which is society, and above all must we determine the utility of its function, which is a social one.

-- Henri Bergson, Laughter

My starting point is the observation that humor is a social practice, an activity by means of which work is performed within and upon a concrete and historically specific social situation. This is a banal enough observation, scarcely novel even in 1900, when Henri Bergson published Le Rire, yet it is one that has generally been denied, neglected, or systematically bracketed in the vast literature of humor studies. Since the nineteenth century this literature, though diverse, has been dominated by narrow formalisms. From linguistics we have models of the "joke" as a distinct class of énoncé, a special arrangement of syntactic and/or semantic elements whose pragmatic dimensions (uses, effects, social functions) are regarded as strictly ancillary and nonconstitutive. From literary criticism and aesthetics we have models of the "comic text" or its various subspecies (comedy, travesty, farce, burlesque, parody, caricature, grotesque, and so forth) as distinct genres, particular formal . . .

Author Advanced search

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.