Academic journal article Medium Aevum

Laughter in the Middle Ages and Early Modern Times: Epistemology of a Fundamental Human Behavior, Its Meaning, and Consequences

Academic journal article Medium Aevum

Laughter in the Middle Ages and Early Modern Times: Epistemology of a Fundamental Human Behavior, Its Meaning, and Consequences

Article excerpt

Laughter in the Middle Ages and Early Modern Times: Epistemology of a Fundamental Human Behavior, its Meaning, and Consequences, ed. Albrecht Classen, Fundamentals of Medieval and Early Modern Culture 5 (Berlin and New York: De Gruyter, 2010). 853 pp. ISBN 978-3-1 1-024547-9. euro129.95. The book aims at an interdisciplinary and multi-layered approach to the highly complex phenomenon of laughter in the Middle Ages and early modern times. The task is complicated by taking into consideration a very long span of time, starting with the sixth (Hagen on Procopius) and ending with the long eighteenth century (Couder t on religious hypocrisy). Even though the title rather misleadingly suggests a single epistemology as the aim of the book, it is rather the multitude of epistemologies presented in the single contributions that seem to be promising as an interdisciplinary approach. The volume takes into account the loci classici of laughter scholarship (not always marking the distinction between comedy and laughter), like German Maeren (Classen), Boccaccio (Alfie), and Chaucer (Mieszkowski); it also focuses on heroic epic (Pigg on Beowulf) and the fabliaux Qost and Gordon). It is the topics that normally are not considered in compilations on laughter which make the volume important, for instance the round-ups on early modern Irish literature (Ó Béarra) and on Dutch paintings of the same period (Peacock). …

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