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This panel explores the ambivalent, awkward, and transgressive aspects of humor and comedy as employed to mark, cross, reinforce, and transgress social and cultural norms. We welcome papers that discuss both verbal and visual forms of humor, as well as the production and consumption of comedy.
Succinctly designated by Lauren Berlant and Sianne Ngai (2017) as "a pleasure spectacle of form's self-violation", capable of both producing and dispelling anxiety, humor and comedy are fundamentally ambivalent modes of cultural expression. As such, they are characteristically uncontained and uncontainable within genres, products, and forms of communication, their effects and affects potentially leaking over every conceivable border. In increasingly effacing the boundaries between political discourse and (political) satire with often unexpected and sometimes dangerous results, for instance, such ambivalence has been argued as lying at the heart of the "unprecedented political potential of humor in the early twenty-first century" (Petrovic 2018, 203).
This panel explores the ambivalent, awkward, and transgressive aspects of humor and comedy. Whether related to stand-up comedy as personal disclosure on a public arena that often purposefully breaks the quotidian social contract of what comprises civil talk, or awkwardness as a comedy trope that bends and suspends all rules of social conduct for maximally (un)pleasant affective response, or simply an upending of the audience's expectations of genre, we are interested in humor and comedy as the simultaneous marking, crossing, reinforcing, and transgressing of social and cultural norms.
We welcome papers that discuss both verbal and visual forms of humor, as well as the production and consumption of comedy.
Berlant, Lauren, and Sianne Ngai 2017. Comedy Has Issues. Critical Inquiry 43:
Petrovic, Tanja. 2018. Political Parody and the Politics of Ambivalence. Annual Review of Anthropology 47:201-16.