The Forms and Logic of Comedy

Open, Lecture—Year

Comedy is a startlingly various form that operates with a variety of logics. It can be politically conservative or starkly radical, savage or gentle, optimistic or despairing. In this course, we will explore some comic modes, from philosophical comedy to modern film, and examine a few theories of comedy. The tentative reading list includes a Platonic dialogue (the Protagoras), Aristophanes’ Old Comedy, Plautus’ New Comedy, Roman satire, Shakespeare, Molière, Fielding, Sterne, Jane Austen, Stendhal, Dickens, Mark Twain, Ambrose Bierce, Oscar Wilde, P. G. Wodehouse, Kingsley Amis, Joseph Heller, David Lodge, Philip Roth, and Tom Stoppard—along with some literary theory and philosophy, cartoons, and film. We may also read Rabelais and/or Cervantes. This reading list is subject to revision.