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ENGL478A - Selected Topics in English and American Literature before 1800; Comedy and Cruelty

We now inhabit a culture in which cruel ridicule is pervasive -- and in which political speech regularly takes the form of gleeful schadenfreude -- but cruelty has been a problem for thinking about comedy and laughter since Aristotle.

his course takes us back to the English Renaissance to investigate the ethical challenges of comedy. It will also use the art and literature of the Renaissance as a point of comparison for modern and contemporary cultural phenomena. What is the role of suffering in comic experience? Under what circumstances do authors and audiences feel permitted to laugh in response to misfortune or calamity? What political purposes does unsympathetic laughter serve? The reading list will begin with Shakespeare and will encompass plays, poems, novels, films, and other genres and media.

Prerequisite: Two English courses in literature; or permission of ARHU-English department.
Repeatable to 9 credits if content differs.

0101 - David Carroll Simon

Schedule of Classes
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