A class about comedy in its aesthetic, political, and philosophical aspects. We will focus on the early modern world, when comedy stood at the vital center of literary culture, but we will also take recourse to the long history of comedy before and after the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, from the classical sources that lie behind the renaissance stage to contemporary films that have kept alive its chief concerns. We will pay special attention to the genre's many varieties, such as farce, satire, intrigue, and irony, with an eye towards the different ends that comedy has been put to. Our big questions will include: Why do we laugh at comedy? Is it just about the jokes, or is it also about the plot? (Can a plot be a joke?) Which kinds of plots are in fact comic? And what are we doing when we laugh anyway? Must comedy come at someone's expense, and if so, how does that affect our sense of its role in human psychology and social life? Playwrights like Shakespeare and Jonson, philosophers like Aristotle and Freud, movies like Metropolitan and 10 Things I Hate About You will help us get toward answers. Satisfies the Early Modern requirement.
Course Attributes: EN H; BU Hum; AS HUM; FA HUM; AR HUM; EL EM