AMSN4: Modernist Comedy & Humour
The Australasian Modernist Studies Network Conference
University of Melbourne, 26-28 October 2018
Jandaschewsky Clowns, 1903. Image by Talma & Co. Collection: Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences, Sydney.
Humanities scholars are devoting new attention to the aesthetics, politics, and social significance of comedy and humour. For instance, in their 2017 special issue of Critical Inquiry on comedy, Lauren Berlant and Sianne Ngai note competing trajectories of modern social life: on the one hand, “people are increasingly supposed to be funny all the time,” and on the other, “humourlessness is on the rise.” In the same issue, Ngai opposes the labor-saving operations of the “gimmick” to Victor Shklovsky and Bertolt Brecht’s practices of making methods of production visible. These tensions and oppositions suggest the usefulness of attending to comedy and humour in the field of modernist studies, which in recent years has rethought traditional oppositions among popular, high modernist, and avant-garde cultural forms.
We invite papers that engage with comedy and humour across the interdisciplinary field of modernist studies. How do comedy and humour reflect and affect the geographical, temporal, and cultural expansiveness of contemporary modernist studies, and what might Australasian scholarship contribute to this expansion? When are comic genres and styles normative, subversive, or ambivalent? When is laughter a mode of detachment, and when is it a way of being in relation? Who is in on the joke, and why does it matter?
Possible topics might include:
Please send an abstract of no more than 300 words and a bio of no more than 150 words to firstname.lastname@example.org as an attachment by March 30th 2018.
Professor Nick Salvato’s visit is supported by the ARC Centre of Excellence for the History of Emotions.
Dr Sarah Balkin, University of Melbourne
Professor Ronan McDonald, University of Melbourne Elizabeth McLean, University of Melbourne
Jessica Marian, University of Melbourne
Questions may be directed to email@example.com.