22nd Australasian Humour Studies Network Conference, The Women’s College, University of Sydney, 6-8 February 2016

“Unfunny: The Limits of Humour”

‘So how do we negotiate the perilous terrain that lies between humour and offensiveness, or free speech and cultural respect, in a pluralist society?’

Michael Pickering & Sharon Lockyer, Beyond a Joke: The Limits of Humour (2009)

Papers are invited from all disciplines on topics related to the study of humour, but we are particularly interested in those that take account of the limits of humour: when things cease to be funny; when humour offends or causes outrage; when humour becomes bad taste or bad faith; when humour is opposed or censored; when humour becomes oppression.

Even for the broad-minded boasting a good sense of humour, there will be many times when that is tested and challenged. Satire, especially, often sets out to be offensive, and stand-up comics can deliberately push boundaries. Who, or what, determines where humour begins and ends? What about those who are hurt by humour?

Does humour have any real power or political impact? Comedian Peter Cook ironically and famously compared his Establishment Club in Soho with those Weimar cabarets ‘which did so much to stop the rise of Hitler and prevent the outbreak of the Second World War’. What about when humour is complicit with an oppressive status quo?

Humour Studies is an expansive inter-disciplinary field, and we welcome approaches that encourage dialogue across disciplines as well as within them. Postgraduate students researching humour-related topics are especially welcome to present their research-in-progress, and some postgraduate scholarships for fees will be available to assist their attendance.
In no particular order, some relevant themes include:

  • The limits of humour in the digital age
  • Humour and the media
  • When laughter isn’t the best medicine
  • Humour and censorship
  • Carnival and mischief
  • Humour and free speech
  • The boundaries of interpersonal and workplace humour
  • Satire as humour
  • Humour and blasphemy
  • Schadenfreude
  • Humour and power
  • Physical comedy, slapstick and injury
  • Humour and disability
  • Humour, mockery and aggression
  • Coulrophobia (fear of clowns)
  • Humour and bigotry, derogatory humour
  • ‘Dying’ on stage
  • Bad taste humour
  • Cultural and personal taboos on humour

The Call will close on Friday 21 August 2015.

To submit your Proposal and register on the Conference Submission and Review website, click here

For more information on attending the conference, including accommodation options and access to The Women’s College and enquiries, click here

For preparing a proposal, useful documents include the AHSN Review Procedures available here. First-time participants may also find Guidelines for Presenters helpful.

Organizing Committee:
Dr Peter Kirkpatrick, Dept of English, University of Sydney (Convenor)
Dr Jessica Milner Davis, Dept of English, University of Sydney
Dr Will Visconti, FASS e-Learning, University of Sydney

“First-time participants may also find Guidelines for Presenters helpful” and before the list of the Organizing Committee”:
For Registration for presenters, scholarship winners and other attendees, please click on sidebar tab, AHSN2016 Registration, and follow the link to the Registration website.