Humour seems to be an essential feature of human life – ‘the ability to be amused by things, the way in which people see that some things are amusing, or the quality of being amusing’ (Merriam-Webster). It is not just about jokes but a way of looking at the world. Individually, it is beneficial to health, relieving negative energy and invigorating the mind and the body. Socially, it is an indicator of frankness and sociability. Economically, it generates communication, improves teamwork and increases efficiency. Politically, it is an important form of protest and disobedience. Historically, it has proven to be a powerful weapon in times of crisis. And it can be wielded negatively, as a weapon or entrée into dark social arenas such as racism or hatred.
Possibly the most pervasive and accessible form of humour is comedy. In the 21st century the entertainment industry has expanded significantly in what some see as the pre-planned ‘professionalisation’ of humour. Television shows explore situation comedy, stand up comedians attract huge numbers to live shows. Humour is carefully channelled, calculated, designed to evoke or provoke laughter and in the process reveals important differences between the two. The ability to provoke laughter, provide amusement or find humour in situations is common across cultures and societies, even though humour works in different ways and on different levels: age, education, gender, ethnicity, space and place all play a part in the things people find funny.
Although humour appears in many forms and styles, it is based on the element of surprise intended to produce a reaction. It can send a message, reveal something new about an otherwise unquestioned event or situation, or about ourselves and our worldview. Through surprise and contradiction, humour can shift the ordinary into the extraordinary, break taboos, transgress boundaries, or call into question our otherwise steadfast beliefs. And while many of its functions are positive, humour can also allow individuals or cultures to elide disturbing facts about social inequality, ignore or downplay injustices and perpetuate stereotypes. Not infrequently, a form of humour more akin to aggressiveness, that incorporates malice, can be used to cause intentional harm, shame and exercise control. Essentially, it can be a technology of power, providing an avenue for expression of prejudice, bias, and bigotry.
Dealing with the complex and often unexpected situations of life, humour takes many forms and meanings. It can include absurdity, banter, buffoonery, burlesque, comedy, derision, facetiousness, farce, foolery, irony, jocularity, mimicry, mockery, parody, puns, ridicule, sarcasm, satire, scorn, slapstick, spoonerism, taunts, tease, waggishness, witticism. Sometimes it is positive, sympathetic, or constructive; other times it can hurt, harm and damage. It can be playful or serious. It can be an act of resistance or outright rebellion; it can be inappropriate and uncontrolled. It can be repressive or subversive, self-deprecating or ironic. We laugh to release tension, to feel more positive, more energised. We laugh to show our confidence or satisfaction or as in indication of excitement, delight, good spirits and happiness.
The second meeting of this inclusive interdisciplinary project will seek to explore the various facets of humour and to map how humour works. We will examine why we laugh, how we laugh and what purpose humour serves. Alongside the discussions is an intention to form a publication to engender further collaboration and discussion. We aim to bring together participants from a wide range of disciplines, professions, and vocations to create a unique, interdisciplinary event that will explore the serious topic of humour in all its wondrous forms. Our goal is to examine the intersections between humour and the human, and to look beneath the surface and beyond the laughter to examine the reasons why we laugh and why we respond with humour to persons, events and situations.
Key topics, themes and issues for discussion may include, but are definitely not limited to:
~ Humour to human: theory of humours, theories of humour
~ The archaeology of humour and laughter: from ancient times to the new Millennium
~ The anatomy of laughter: the physiological effects of laughter
~ Humour and pain, humour and death: laughter as therapy
~ Humour in times of change and conflict: acts of resistance
~ The topography of humour: local, regional, national variants of humour
~ Humour and the city: do cities have a particular sense of humour? what are the differences between urban, suburban and rural humour?
~ The language of humour: from traditional jokes to high-brow intellectualism
~ The humour gap: gendered versions of funniness
~ Laughter in the classroom: humour in educational settings
~ Humour in performance: theatre, cinema, stand-up comedy, television, music
~ Humour in folklore: trickster figures and fictional characters
~ Entertainers in time: clowns and harlequins, pranksters and jesters, comics and comedians
~ Borders of humour: dark humour, horror humour, crude humour, toilet humour, off-colour humour
~ Humour – levels of acceptance in science, business, politics, religion, architecture, gastronomy, etc.
~ Completing our five senses: how to develop a sense of humour
~ The English sense of humour: understatement, euphemism, self-effacement
~ Globalisation of humour: traceability and translatability
~ The present status and future prospects of humour
What to Send
The aim of this inclusive interdisciplinary conference and collaborative networking event is to bring people together and encourage creative conversations in the context of a variety of formats: papers, seminars, workshops, storytelling, performances, poster presentations, panels, q&a’s, round-tables etc. Please feel free to put forward proposals that you think will get the message across, in whatever form.
300 word proposals, presentations, abstracts and other forms of contribution and participation should be submitted by Friday 4th October 2019. Other forms of participation should be discussed in advance with the Organising Chairs.
All submissions will be minimally double reviewed, under anonymous (blind) conditions, by a global panel drawn from members of the Project Team and the Advisory Board. In practice our procedures usually entail that by the time a proposal is accepted, it will have been minimally triple and quadruple reviewed.
You will be notified of the panel’s decision by Friday 18th October 2019.
If your submission is accepted for the conference, a full draft of your contribution should be submitted by Friday 17th January 2020.
Abstracts and proposals may be in Word, PDF, RTF or Notepad formats with the following information and in this order:
a) author(s), b) affiliation as you would like it to appear in the programme, c) email address, d) title of proposal, e) type of proposal e.g. paper presentation, workshop, panel, film, performance, etc, f) body of proposal, g) up to 10 keywords.
E-mails should be entitled: Humour 2
Where to Send
Abstracts and proposals should be submitted simultaneously to the Organising Chair and the Project Administrator:
What’s so Special About A Progressive Connexions Event?
A fresh, friendly, dynamic format – at Progressive Connexions we are dedicated to breaking away from the stuffy, old-fashion conference formats, where endless presentations are read aloud off PowerPoints. We work to bring you an interactive format, where exchange of experience and information is alternated with captivating workshops, engaging debates and round tables, time set aside for getting to know each other and for discussing common future projects and initiatives, all in a warm, relaxed, egalitarian atmosphere.
A chance to network with international professionals – the beauty of our interdisciplinary events is that they bring together professionals from all over the world and from various fields of activity, all joined together by a shared passion. Not only will the exchange of experience, knowledge and stories be extremely valuable in itself, but we seek to create lasting, ever-growing communities around our projects, which will become a valuable resource for those belonging to them.
A chance to be part of constructing change – There is only one thing we love as much as promoting knowledge: promoting real, lasting social change by encouraging our participants to take collective action, under whichever form is most suited to their needs and expertise (policy proposals, measuring instruments, research projects, educational materials, etc.) We will support all such actions in the aftermath of the event as well, providing a platform for further discussions, advice from the experts on our Project Advisory Team and various other tools and intellectual resources, as needed.
An opportunity to discuss things that matter to you – Our events are not only about discussing how things work in the respective field, but also about how people work in that field – what are the struggles, problems and solutions professionals have found in their line of work, what are the areas where better communication among specialists is needed and how the interdisciplinary approach can help bridge those gaps and help provide answers to questions from specific areas of activity.
An unforgettable experience – When participating in a Progressive Connexions event, there is a good chance you will make some long-time friends. Our group sizes are intimate, our venues are comfortable and relaxing and our event locations are suited to the history and culture of the event.
Progressive Connexions believes it is a mark of personal courtesy and professional respect to your colleagues that all delegates should attend for the full duration of the meeting. If you are unable to make this commitment, please do not submit an abstract or proposal for presentation.
Please note: Progressive Connexions is a not-for-profit network and we are not in a position to be able to assist with conference travel or subsistence, nor can we offer discounts off published rates and fees.
Please direct all questions and enquiries to: email@example.com
For further details and information please visit the conference web site: http://www.progressiveconnexions.net/interdisciplinary-projects/narratives-persons-communities/humour/conferences/
Sponsored by: Progressive Connexions