This collection demonstrates the usefulness of approaching texts—verbal, visual and aural—through a framework of humour. Contributors offer in-depth discussions of humour in the West within a wider cultural historical context to achieve a coherent, chronological sense of how humour proceeds from antiquity to modernity. Reading humorously reveals the complexity of certain aspects of texts that other reading approaches have so far failed to reveal. Humour in the Arts explores humour as a source of cultural formation that engages with ethical, political, and religious controversies whilst acquainting readers with a wide range of humorous structures and strategies used across Western cultures.

chapter |19 pages


Reading Humorously: Towards New Perspectives

chapter 1|20 pages

Literary Humour in English

A Short Cultural History

chapter 2|19 pages

Unbidden to the Banquet

Humour in the Classical Period

chapter 3|19 pages

Understatement and Incongruity

Humour in the Literature of Anglo-Saxon England

chapter 6|15 pages

“To Make Fools Laugh, and Women Blush, and Wise Men Ashamed” 1

Humour in the English Restoration

chapter 7|18 pages

Beyond Slapstick

Humour, Physicality, and Empathic Performance in G. E. Lessing’s Comedies

chapter 8|21 pages

Emerson’s Sad Clown

American Transcendentalism and the Dilemma of the Humourist

chapter 9|27 pages

The Congruity of Incongruity

Victorian Intermedial Humour 1

chapter 10|23 pages

“A tomato is also a child’s balloon”

Surrealist Humour as a Moral Attitude 1

chapter |4 pages