2005 INVITATIONAL COLLOQUIUM OF THE AUSTRALASIAN HUMOUR SCHOLARS NETWORK
THE BUNKER CARTOON GALLERY
(CITY HILL DRIVE, Cnr HOGBIN DR AND ALBANY ST)
AUSTRALIA'S FIRST AND ONLY PUBLIC CARTOON GALLERY
Wednesday 30th and Thursday 31st March 2005
Top left: Dr Marguerite Wells, author of Japanese Humour (Macmillan, 1997), gives an authentic performance of a Japanese comic epic.
Top right: Dr Leigh Summers, 2005 Director of the Bunker Cartoon Gallery, Coffs Harbour, discusses with Sundar Ramanathaiyer his study of O. V. Vijayan, Indian cartoonist
FINAL TIMETABLE WEDNESDAY 30 MARCH
|9.00 - 9.30 am||Registration, Tea and Coffee|
|9.30 - 10.00||Mr Lindsay Foyle, Pocket Cartoonist and Cartoon Historian, The Life and Death of the Australian Self-Image|
|10.00 - 10.30||Dr Heydon Manning, Politics, Dr Robert Phiddian, English, Flinders University, "A Mortgage on Trust" - Cartoonists View the 2004 Election|
|10.30 - 11.00||Dr Jessica Milner Davis, Arts and Social Sciences, UNSW, "Aussie" Humour and Laughter: an Acculturating Ritual?|
|11.00 - 11.30 am||Morning Refreshments|
|11.30 - 12.00||Ms Julie Lee, Research Student, Art History and Philosophy, University of Adelaide, The Art and Science of Sublime Humour|
|12.00 - 12.30||Dr Peter Gerdes, formerly School of Drama, UNSW, A Vicious Circle or Modern Life? From Chaplin to "The Office" in 20 Minutes [Plus a Bit of Film Viewing]|
|12.30 - 2.00 pm||Lunch|
|2.00 - 2.30||Dr John Carmody, Medicine, UNSW, Comic Opera: an Oxymoron?|
|2.30 - 3.00||Ms Agnes Czeiger, Research Student, Media, Film and Theatre, UNSW, Humour in Science Fiction Film|
|3.00 - 3.30 pm||Afternoon Tea|
|3.30 - 4.00||Dr Paul Thomas, Medicine, UNSW, Jokes to Take your Breath Away? Humour and Asthma: Laughter-Associated Asthma and Reduced Respiratory Function (LAAARRF)|
|4.00 - 4.30||Dr Carmen Moran, Social Work, UNSW, Humour and Trauma|
|4.30 - 5.00||Dr Peter Spitzer, Chairman and Medical Director, The Humour Foundation, LaughterBoss - the Court Jester in Aged Care|
|5.00 - 5.30||General Open Discussion|
|5.30 pm||Refreshments and Performance by Dr Marguerite Wells Independent Scholar and Kyogen Actor; Break for Dinner|
FINAL TIMETABLE THURSDAY 31 MARCH
|8.30 - 9.00 am||Registration; Tea and Coffee|
|9.00 - 9.30||Dr Leigh Summers, Bunker Cartoon Gallery, Thinly Veiled Laughter: Cartoonists, Sexual Tensions and the Burka|
|9.30 - 10.00||Mr Rolf Heimann (aka "Lofo"), Vice-President Australian Cartoonists Association, 2003 Cartoonist of the Year, Achtung! Bad Humour: Humour in Political Propaganda|
|10.00 - 10.30||Dr Michael Hill, Visual Communication, University of Technology, Sydney (UTS), COMIC CUTS: A Case Study in Cartooning at UTS|
|10.30 - 11.00||Dr Heydon Manning, Politics, Dr Robert Phiddian, English, Flinders University, Case Studies in Censorship and Political Cartooning|
|11.00 - 11.30 am||Morning Refreshments|
|11.30 - 12.00||Dr Iain Topliss, English, La Trobe University, Temporality and Humour in Cartooning|
|12.00 - 12.30||Open Discussion on Cartooning|
|12.30 - 2.00 pm||Lunch|
|2.00 - 2.30||Dr Bruce Findlay, Psychology, Swinburne University of Technology, I Think I've got a Sense of Humour, but do Others Think so?|
|2.30 - 3.00||Ms Stephanie Schnurr, Research Student, Linguistics and Applied Language Studies, Victoria University of Wellington, Humour and Leadership in the Workplace|
|3.00 - 3.30||Adj. Prof. Randall Albury, Classics, History and Religion, University of New England, Courtly Humour in the Renaissance|
|3.30 - 4.00||General Open Discussion|
|4.00 - 4.30||Afternoon Tea and Departure|
Adj. Prof. Randall Albury, Classics, History and Religion, University of New England
Courtly Humour in the Renaissance
Baldesar Castiglione's Book of the Courtier (Il libro del cortegiano, 1528) reflects the author's view of Italian court society in the early sixteenth century. During approximately the next century and a quarter it was one of the most frequently reprinted and translated books in Europe. The Courtier is a complex text, written in the form of a dialogue. One of its purposes is to adapt humanist political philosophy to a new set of political conditions, but after the 1540s it was predominantly regarded as a handbook of courtly manners.
A lengthy section of The Courtier is devoted to jokes, setting out the reasons why the courtier must be skilled in the use of humour and providing advice on who should tell what kind of jokes to whom, and in what circumstances. To judge from the underlinings, marginal notes and published comments of later readers, this section of the book attracted particular attention throughout the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. In the present paper I will outline Castiglione's view of humour and its uses at court, giving examples of jokes that the interlocutors in his dialogue tell one another. In addition, I will suggest that beneath the appearance of superficial gallantry, which most appealed to later readers of this work, Castiglione's discussion of humour is directly related to the political philosophy that he espoused for the ideal courtier.
Dr John Carmody, Faculty of Medicine, UNSW
Comic Opera: an Oxymoron?
Many would argue that, of itself, music cannot be humorous. A seemingly simpler question is whether, with the addition of a text, the outcome can be comic. Yet Grove's Dictionary of Opera devotes a mere 90 words to the topic of Comic Opera. Looking to examples of this nebulous genre, most of them Italian, comedy seems to be mainly the ridiculous with the music moving as fast as possible while the characters are made fools of by themselves or by others. Rossini's numerous operas illustrate this characteristic; so does Die schweigsame Frau by Richard Strauss. At its most jejeune, this style 'contrives superficial eccentric effects and provokes laughter for its own sake', as Israel Nestyev said of Prokofiev's ballet, The Buffoon (Nestyev: Prokofiev, Stanford University Press, 1960).
By contrast with this 'Old Comedy', such works as Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro and Wagner's The Mastersingers of Nuremberg are much more complex. Like Shakespeare's greatest plays, they mix serious material with comic episodes, a characteristic which makes them, perhaps, closer to classical 'Middle Comedy'. Even so, Figaro has clear allusions to commedia dell'arte – with such characters as Don Basilio, Dr Bartolo and Marcellina – while The Mastersingers employs elements of mediaeval (even Gothic) German drama, though whether a work can really be called a comedy which deploys such clear anti-French xenophobia and brutish violence to the arguably Jewish figure of Beckmesser is surely exceedingly dubious. Importantly, in both of those operas the music contributes to the comedy. As would be expected, it is with subtlety from Mozart and rather more coarsely from Wagner during, for example, his parody of Beckmesser's vocal infelicity.
However, it is in Mozart's Così fan tutte that all of the essential ingredients coalesce into a great comedy – arguably, the greatest yet written. Even the ironic title makes its contribution: 'All women do such things', whereas the opera convincingly shows that everyone, men and women alike, are so emotionally fickle. Furthermore, with great originality Mozart uses a 'motto' theme – first in the Overture and later when the cynical but realistic Don Alfonso drives home his lesson of life to the infatuated young men. Elsewhere, the young women's romantic languor is sensually evoked in the writing for wood-wind instruments. By the end of the drama, it is the women who have seen reality and gained insight – musically as well as dramatically; the men remain unchanged adolescents. The comedy is set against the most serious aspects of human maturity and insincerity. Yet Mozart's immense achievement – a truly syncretic dramma giocoso (his librettists term for Don Giovanni) – was misunderstood for generations. Beethoven considered Così a truly immoral opera. Perhaps that oxymoronic recognition – even genius can be purblind to the greatness of others – is an aspect of the deepest comedy, operatic or otherwise.
Ms Agnes Czeiger, Research Student, Media, Film and Theatre, UNSW
Humour in Science Fiction Film
"There are only a handful of films which gently fool with SF elements in a sustained and self-contained comic climate" (Vivian Sobchack). With its origins grounded in the horror film genre, in one which evokes 'fear' and 'terror', it is generally accepted that there is no humour in science fiction films. Indeed, in films such as the digitally produced Final Fantasy (2001), there is an absence of anything comic. However, an exploration of the historical context suggests that there are forms of humour, parody and satire within the science fiction genre. This paper aims to examine some elements that construct these forms of humour and their manifestations in science fiction films.
Dr Bruce Findlay and Mr Chris Jones, Social and Behavioural Sciences, Swinburne University of Technology
I think I've got a Sense of Humour, but do Others Think so?
This study examines self-reported sense of humour using Martin's (2003) Humor Styles Questionnaire in a sample of 80 students, aged 18-51. It compares respondents' judgment of their own humour style with judgments by both their partner and a friend. Results indicated moderate agreement between the three judgments, at about the same level as agreement on personality variables. Respondents also completed measures of both general and psychological health. Interestingly, the best predictor of physical health was their partner's judgment of how they used humour, while the best predictor of psychological health, after personality variables, was if they did not use self-defeating humour.
Mr Lindsay Foyle, Pocket Cartoonist with The Australian, President, Black and White Artists Club, and Cartoon Historian
The Life and Death of the Australian Self Image
If you could hold Australia up to a mirror what reflection would look back. In Britain it would be John Bull, and in the USA Uncle Sam. At one time in Australia it was a little boy from Manly. That image was replaced by the noble larrikin after the Great War. But who are we now, have we reverted to the little person at Manly, are we still larrikins, are we South Pacific Americans or are we still waiting to be told by George W Bush?
Dr Peter Gerdes, formerly School of Drama, UNSW
A Vicious Circle or Modern Life? From Chaplin to the Office in 20 Minutes [Plus a Bit of Film Viewing]
We who live in a Western society, a so-called fully developed commercialised consumer society, have to live with complexities which create continuously new complexities. We must survive in a world where the pressure of the future is almost unbearable. We have created a technology which can and has to be adapted continuously but that does not help us to gain a feeling of permanence and reliability and a sense of safety. A sense of running in circles (some mistakenly think they are running up a spiral to the top only to find out that this spiral is very glitchy...) can be overwhelming. If one looks often enough at Jacque Tati's films one begins to realise that he uses the idea of circles in an extraordinary number of sequences, particularly when he presents the 'modern world' as he sees it. But: has not Charlie Chaplin visualised Modern Times in unique images that no-one can ever forget? Charlie being driven mad by machines going round and round and round and finally being swallowed up by one of them. Circles from which it would indeed be difficult to escape. And, entirely on a different scale, how does one of the most depressing television comedy series start? Watch the opening of The Office and you find yourself back in Tati's world of going around in – depressingly funny – circles. Circles, the essence of life's cycle? A few random observations on circles….
Rolf Heimann (aka "Lofo"), Vice President (Victoria and Tasmania) Australian Cartoonists Association, 2003 Gold-Stanley Award winner ('Cartoonist of the Year') and author
Achtung! Bad Humour
This presentation will examine the use of humour as a propaganda tool, illustrated by about 50 examples from Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union, and other states including Australia. It demonstrates how our concept of what is funny or not depends on our attitudes. Our reaction to jokes unconsciously reveals our background our education, our nationality, our religion, our state of mind, and much more. Secret Service agents are being taught to use humour to make subjects give themselves away without realising it. Cartoonists have often been utilised in propaganda wars to vilify the enemy or to otherwise advance the interests of the establishment. It is often said that cartoonists fearlessly hold up a mirror to society, yet we only admire them if they happen to project prejudices that we share.
Dr Michael Hill, Visual Communication, University of Technology, Sydney (UTS) COMIC CUTS: A Case Study in Cartooning at UTS
In late 2003 and throughout 2004 I became involved in the provision of a series of cartoons for some publications produced at UTS, namely U: (the university's glossy flagship magazine), DAB (one faculty's glossy public relations magazine), Form/Work (a university published journal of refereed articles within the architecture and design discipline), and an online research bulletin aimed at encouraging new researchers.
This case study is interesting for a number of reasons. Firstly it involves the transition, on the part of the academic/cartoonist, from the analysis and study of graphic humour to the actual production of cartoons. Secondly, as these publications had an external and media presence, the cartoons were subject to in-house editorial control and the policies of the university's marketing and communications unit. This resulted in an ongoing struggle between between the needs of the university and the unrestrained expression of the cartoonist. Thirdly, the element of design as a methodology in the creation of the cartoons was utilised bringing into play the flow and monitoring of message and communication from client to audience as opposed to the singular artistic expression of the cartoonist. Finally, the resultant strategy of creative mythology adopted by the cartoonist represents a resolution of all of the restrictions whilst attempting to retain a humorous edge to the work. This case study will analyse these four aspects: the transition of graphic humour from study to practice; cartooning and editorial control; cartooning and design; and cartooning as creative mythology. The cartoons will be displayed and discussed in terms of these four elements.
Julie Lee, Doctoral Student, Art History and Philosophy, University of Adelaide
The Art and Science of Sublime Humour
The purpose of this paper is to introduce and distinguish sublime humour within the realm of the fine arts and western philosophical tradition. My intention is twofold, firstly, to introduce and delineate a sub-genre of humour for which I will deploy the term sublime humour; and secondly, to propose that developing a theoretical understanding of sublime humour will enhance an appropriate audience's understanding of artworks that contain properties, that whilst confronting, can also elicit a mirthful response, albeit restrained or muted. Furthermore, the distinction between "black" humour and "sublime" humour will be demarcated.
I propose that numerous artists have exploited "sublime humour" within the domain of the visual arts, moreover, it is particularly prevalent in the works of numerous contemporary Australian artists. The degree of the sublime and the humour can vary, with some works the humour is blatant but the sublime effects are subtle, with other works, the sublime may be marked and the humour fleeting. I do not propose that difficult artworks should be trivialised and viewed as humorous in isolation, but rather that we embrace the humorous potentials in order to curtail the disturbing and/or conceptually challenging qualities, which in turn enables a more considered response. Sublime humour can serve as a practical critical device for contemporary artists and is an apt descriptor for some problematic artefacts; moreover, philosophically, the term acknowledges that phenomena which possess qualities that can potentially elicit both sublime and humorous responses in the viewer, can and do exist, and therefore should merit dialogue by art critics, historians and philosophers.
Dr Heydon Manning, Politics, and Dr Robert Phiddian, English, Flinders University
'A Mortgage on Trust' - Cartoonists View the 2004 Election
In many respects, the 2004 national election provided a return to campaign normality for the cartoonists after their unanimous condemnation of Prime Minister Howard and Opposition Leader, Beazley during the 2001 election when the plight of refugees featured so large. Their work lacked the moral and satirical intensity on display last time when we argued that 'They were more 'unfair' and powerful than in any campaign we have yet covered' (Manning and Phiddian 2002). We observe in 2004 the cartoonists returning to the type of cartooning found during the 1998 election when siding with the incredulity of the citizen voter, faced with a litany of election products, promises and shonky deals, was the order of the day (Manning and Phiddian 2000). In 2004 cartoonists provide a chronicle of the national and occasionally the state-based issues of the campaign, so we will proceed largely chronologically in our analysis. It was a long campaign, during which the moods and issues changed significantly, without any unifying factor coming to dominate. Though the result now seems unusually clear-cut, people were not at all confident about what mattered and who was going to win during the campaign (until, perhaps, the last few days), and the cartoonists reflected this struggle to find the critical thread. The most notable theme to emerge concerns the way the election became an auction block and this, in view of the result, suggests that while the Coalition camp claims all the accolades for superior campaigning it seriously misjudged the electorates' mood, namely, that Labor under Latham were almost without hope. This is perhaps best captured by a series of searing cartoons from the campaign's last few days when Latham falls for Howard's sucker punch over protection of old growth forests. Though wordier and far less entertaining, the search for electoral meaning could also be undertaken focusing on opinion writers, editorialists, web-loggers, and pundits on the electronic media and in all probability yield similar results to the insights offered by our cartoonists.
Dr Heydon Manning, Politics, Dr Robert Phiddian, English, Flinders University
Case Studies in Censorship and Political Cartooning
Cartoonist with the New Zealand Herald, Malcolm Evans, was dismissed from the paper after he refused to follow his editor's instruction to cease cartooning on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Members of the Jewish community were upset by a number of his cartoons, drawn during the first half of 2003. As an award winning editorial cartoonist Evans, observed in his defense, that his cartoons may offend but that their content was not necessarily wrong. Much like his brethren cartoonists, he guards fiercely his licence to mock politicians, governments and states. This paper examines the space within which cartoonists examine political subjects, analyses the Evans case, assesses the legal environment and the parameter within which mass circulation newspaper editors operate. We defend a wide licence for cartoonists and note that they, for the most part, unnecessarily fear defamation for in all likelihood the courts will interpret their work as comment rather than literal assertion of an assumed fact. This paper forms part of our continuing research into the role played by cartoons and satire in political debate and opinion-making: are they mere entertainment, useful indices of public opinion, or positively influential in shaping political events?
Dr Jessica Milner Davis, Visiting Fellow, Arts and Social Sciences, UNSW
'Aussie' Humour and Laughter: an Acculturating Ritual?
As suggested by Christie Davies' studies of national styles of mirth (The Mirth of Nations, Transaction, New Brunswick NJ, 2002), there may be nothing particularly distinctive about either the texts or the subjects of jokes held to be typically "Aussie", such constructs being largely re-cycled from one cultural context to another around the world. But for the past two hundred years laughter has certainly been used as a secret weapon to identify those who are truly "at home" in majority-culture Australia. Defining Australian humour may thus be a matter rather of the style of the joking rather than the style of the jokes: that is, how Australians use humour, rather than the nature of the humour used. Australians are notorious for using jokes (both verbal and practical) quite aggressively to exclude the out-group and to bond the in-group, and I argue that it is this experiential aspect of humour which characterises Australian culture. Possibly such an approach does not originate with white settlement, but – consciously or unconsciously – was inspired by ingrained characteristics of indigenous culture, as is suggested by recent writers such as Inga Clendinnen and Ruby Langford Ginibi. Whether that is so or not, the in-groups and the out-groups (and their respective characteristics) can readily be traced along with the spread of white settlement. Post World War 2, successive waves of international migration have contributed their own illustrations of the experience of "Aussie" joking and they suggest a unique framework which may also fit other cultural manifestations of Australian humour.
Dr Carmen Moran, School of Social Work, UNSW
Humour and Trauma
The term trauma, like humour, can cover many events, experiences and reactions. It would seem that all traumatic events have been the subject of jokes, even if circulation of those jokes is limited in place or time. There is a frequent assumption that such humour is a way of dealing with the enormity of certain events, and psychological theories related to coping, denial, and resilience are sometimes cited in support of this claim. There is little empirical work to indicate if such humour helps those who employ or enjoy trauma jokes. Further, there is only slightly more empirical work on the impact of 'trauma-related' humour on those who are the 'victims' of trauma. The larger part of such research that does exist in this area looks at humour in emergency responders. This paper considers these three aspects of trauma related humour: the trauma jokes (also incorporating disaster jokes), the role of humour for victims, and for emergency responders. The conclusion is reached that humour does not block feelings about trauma, and of itself is not a sign of good or bad coping. Rather, its interpersonal qualities and their implications may be more crucial to the evaluation and impact of humour in the aftermath of trauma.
Stephanie Schnurr, Doctoral Student, Linguistics and Applied Language Studies, Victoria University of Wellington
Humour and Leadership in the Workplace
Researchers across various disciplines agree that humour is "good for business"; it accomplishes a variety of positive functions which may improve performance by enhancing job satisfaction and creating a friendly work climate. Humour has therefore been named as "one of the key characteristics of leadership" (Clouse and Spurgeon 1995: 19). This paper analyses the interactions of effective leaders from three New Zealand IT organisations showing that humour is skilfully employed to give advice and guidance, mitigate criticism and disagreement, create team, and minimise status differences. These leaders not only use humour to skilfully advance their organisations' objectives but also to consider their subordinates' needs.
Dr Peter Spitzer MB BS, Chairman and Medical Director, The Humour Foundation, Bowral
LaughterBoss – The Court Jester in Aged Care
The Humour Foundation is a charity dedicated to promoting the health benefits of humour. Founded in 1997 by Dr Peter Spitzer, a GP, and Jean-Paul Bell, a professional performer, the Foundation's core project is the Clown Doctor programme. Clown Doctors visit paediatric and general hospitals, hospices and nursing homes. They have helped people find their smiles again in East Timor and Afghanistan. The demand for Clown Doctors to visit aged care facilities was too great and could not be met by the Humour Foundation, so Dr Spitzer developed the LaughterBoss concept and first presented the model at the First National Conference on Depression in Aged Care (Challenging Depression In Aged Care) at the University of NSW in Sydney, June 2003.
The LaughterBoss, a member of staff, can be considered as the court jester in the facility working directly with quality of life and psychosocial 'coal face' issues as they arise and as they need to be met. They must work in partnership with other therapeutic modalities. This position is supported by the management of the facility. The LaughterBoss knows the people (residents, staff and families), the environment, the ethos and culture of their facility. The LaughterBoss can: create bonds, be nourishing, help with improved coping, be supportive, give cognitive control, provide positive diversion and increase the 'smileage factor'.
The selected person attends an intensive 1-day training course together with follow-up workshops. Usually this person is either the Director of Nursing, or a registered nurse, nursing aide, diversional therapist, occupational therapist, physiotherapist etc. This presentation will give an overview of the training day. Feedback and results of surveys from training workshops held throughout Australia will also be presented. The LaughterBoss is not restricted to aged care. All organizations would benefit from such a person. "It is the job of the LaughterBoss, via open-heart surgery, to touch the soul and give it room to smile and laugh" (Spitzer).
Dr Leigh Summers, Curator/Manager Bunker Cartoon Gallery
Thinly Veiled Laughter: Cartoonists, Sexual Tensions and the Burka
At a recent international cartoon competition twelve entries in the category that lampooned fashion were characterised by a focus on the burka. Several of these images, many from Eastern block countries, belittled the wearing of the veil in particular ways. This paper flags several issues that arise from the depiction of veiled women in cartoons held in the collections of the Bunker Cartoon Gallery. Do these works represent a desire to liberate Islamic women from oppressive sartorial and social dictums? Are these works simply sexist representations of women? Do these images betray postcolonial sexual anxieties around the mysterious clothed body beneath the veil? Or, least amusing of all, could the thinly veiled laughter these works elicit be read as an expression of blatant Islamaphobia?
Dr Paul Thomas, Medicine, UNSW, and Respiratory Medicine, Prince of Wales Hospital, Sydney, Dr Carmen Moran, Social Work, UNSW, and Dr Jessica Milner Davis, Arts and Social Sciences, UNSW
Jokes to take your breath away? Humour and Asthma: Laughter-associated Asthma and Reduced RespiratoryFunction (LAAARRF)
Laughter has been described as a precipitant of asthmatic symptoms and clinical signs, which can be termed laughter-associated asthma and reduced respiratory function (LAAARRF). We have previously documented in paediatric and adult populations that as many as 42% of asthmatic subjects report laughing to precipitate their asthmatic symptoms. There is a strong association with exercise-induced asthma in these individuals. LAAARRF was also associated with asthma which was less well controlled, as this group are more likely to be admitted to hospital for their asthma, compared with other asthmatics. Those who report this association describe the symptoms as developing within seconds of laughing, unlike exercise-induced asthma where the symptoms take longer to develop.
We hypothesised that there may be features in the humour preference or the response of those with LAAARRF to humorous stimuli which might induce an asthmatic person to respond with wheezing. A community and hospital based survey has been initiated which has attempted to address aspects of laughter preferences and responses. The intention is to be able to compare age and gender matched asthmatic subjects who do and do not have LAAARRF, and a control group of normal non-asthmatic subjects. Asthmatic subjects have been recruited from hospital clinics, while normal subjects have been recruited from the community, including the Bunker Cartoon Gallery, by direct approach.
The instruments are (i) a self-reported asthma assessment (ii) a humour styles questionnaire (HSQ 32) (iii) a questionnaire on humour styles preference in entertainment and (iv) humour and laughter reactions questionnaire. The latter two instruments were developed and validated specifically for this study. This paper will report on the early stages of this research, including the methodological issues that arise when seeking to evaluate the nature and impact of humour in a clinical group.
Dr Iain Topliss, Communication, Arts and Critical Enquiry, La Trobe University
Temporality and Humour in Cartooning
This paper distinguishes three basic senses of temporality, each of which seems important when we try to make sense of the development of the single panel cartoon in the 19th and 20th centuries. These are (i) Historical Temporality: the historical conditions under which the cartoon emerges and flourishes as a form; (ii) Reading Temporality: the "reading" moment, encompassing both the fleeting act of consumption of the cartoon, but also the moment of laughter as an activity that interrupts the temporality of the reader's own life; and (iii) Narrative Temporality: the way cartoons frequently imply a narrative sequence, not shown, an action that the reader has to reconstruct, forwards or backwards, in order to make the joke, a topic that trespasses upon Reader Response theory. The paper discusses each sense, with examples, and proposes some connections between them.
Dr Marguerite Wells, Independent Scholar (Japanese Humour: Macmillan 1997), Actor
Performance: 'The Battle of the Black and White Rice-Cakes' (from the play 'Yabuhara Kengyō' by INOUE Hisashi, trans. Marguerite Wells)
Yabuhara, the Blind Minstrel (see Japan Playwrights Association (eds), Half a Century of Japanese Theater, 1960s, Kinokuniya, Tokyo, 2004) is a picaresque black comedy about an 18th century Japanese villain who makes his way to the top ranks of the Guild of the Blind by nefarious means (theft, extortion and murder) and through great talent in the recitation of ballads. His speciality was the mock ballad which was a parody on the heroic ballad. The heroic ballads were principally based on the adventures of the hero Yoshitsune in the long-running battles between the two warrior families, the Heike and the Genji. This ballad, translated into iambic pentameter, is a parody on the fall of Yoshitsune. INOUE Hisashi, the playwright, said that it took him as long to write this ballad as it did to write the rest of the play. The Great Chysanthemum Gate that is Lord Whitecake's ultimate...er…downfall, is the insignia of the imperial family, but may also be seen to resemble the…er…anus.