presented by

WHEN: Wednesday 17 May, 3.00-4.30 p.m.
WHERE: Room S226, John Woolley Building (A20), Manning Road, University of Sydney

WHO: All welcome! Refreshments available! For catering purposes, please let Jessica Milner Davis or Peter Kirkpatrick know if you plan to come: and

TITLE: “Gulliver and Satirical Catharsis”
ABSTRACT: ‘But, by what I have gathered from your own Relation, and the answers I have with much Pains wrung and extorted from you; I cannot but conclude the Bulk of your Natives to be the most pernicious Race of little odious Vermin that Nature ever suffered to crawl upon the Surface of the Earth.’ (Gulliver’s Travels, II, vi.)

Why is the King of Brobdingnag’s sentence so enduringly exhilarating? On propositional content it should be merely demoralising, but that has never been its emotional effect in my personal or teaching experience. It (and other similar moments in Gulliver’s Travels) enact some sort of satirical catharsis, mobilising in readers emotions like those defined by modern neuropsychology as the CAD (contempt, anger, disgust) triad of negative emotions. The application of ideas from experimental psychology to eighteenth-century literature clearly runs the risk of being reductive. If, however, they are deployed with due sensitivity to historical context (especially contemporary conceptions of the passions) they can be used to inform a new and significant account of the cathartic power of Swift’s best known work. This paper will read for satirical catharsis in some signal passages of Books Two and Four of Gulliver’s Travels, in the light of a dialogue between early modern passions and late modern emotions. It extends work commenced in an earlier account of Swift’s saeva indignatio, the epitaph, and ‘A Beautiful Young Nymph’.


24th Conference of the Australasian Humour Studies Network (AHSN)

“Humour: How does it Travel?”
hosted by the
Centre for Tourism and Regional Opportunities (CTRO)
Central Queensland University, Cairns Campus

2-4 February 2018

Papers are invited from all disciplines on all topics related to the study of humour, but the conveners of this conference are particularly interested in those that address the concept and practice of how humour travels, whether between times or places, genres or forms, from creator to recipient, from one hearer to another, as well as humour about travel (e.g. tourism, exotic locations etc), and the questions of whether such travelling is successful, and why – or why not.

Humour Studies is an expansive multi-disciplinary field, and we welcome approaches that encourage dialogue across disciplines as well as within them. Postgraduate students researching humour-related topics are especially invited to present their research-in-progress, and some postgraduate scholarships or fee waivers will be available to assist the attendance of those whose proposals first successfully complete review.

Guidelines for preparing proposals for papers (30 mins) and practical workshops (60 minutes),

The Call will close on Monday 10 July 2017 at 5.00pm, unless otherwise advertised.

Proposal Submission

To submit your proposal, click on the Proposal Submission side-bar link on this page and follow the prompts to upload your proposal and personal details on our dedicated submission and review website.

Conference Information

For information on attending the conference, travel and accommodation options, click on the Conference Information side-bar link on this page.

Conference registration will open here in July 2017.

Organizing Committee

Dr Anja Pabel, CQUniversity Australia
Dr Jessica Milner Davis, University of Sydney
Dr Bruce Findlay, Swinburne University of Technology


Submission of proposals and speakers, contact Dr Bruce Findlay, E:

General Enquires:

Contact Dr Anja Pabel, E: