Laughing Matters: Comedy and Contemporary Culture

Level 6 (15 credits)

Has contemporary culture taken a funny turn? This module offers you the chance to find out. We will look at the recent proliferation of comic novels and short stories, as well as stand-up comedy, sitcoms and film, in order to ask questions such as: why is this funny? how is this funny? should we be laughing at this? and what does this type of comedy say about the contemporary moment? We will also study the theory and philosophy of comedy, using this to inform our understanding of what comedy and laughter do, culturally, psychologically, ethically and politically.

Preparing for this Module and Approximate Costs

Please read the module pack excerpts for Week 1 in advance of the first seminar. I'd also encourage you to pay attention to anything that you read, watch or listen to and find funny: think about what you find funny, and perhaps more importantly why you find it funny and how the humour is working.

  • Primary texts costing up to £45 if purchased new in recommended editions. Note that these costs can be often be reduced by purchasing items second-hand or borrowing them from the Library.
  • Students are required to watch a selection of films and sitcoms. These are widely available via streaming services, including the Box of Broadcasts service, which is free to QM students.
  • Travel and admission to a stand-up comedy performance. Students can choose from a range of options, from free nights to more expensive theatre shows.

Why take
Laughing Matters: Comedy and Contemporary Culture

  • A unique opportunity to learn about comedy and humour across multiple media, including books, film television and performance (stand-up).
  • You are encouraged to reflect on the role and significance of comedy in contemporary culture.
  • We may also, occasionally: laugh.
Learning Context Long Seminar
Semester One or Two
  1. Written assignment 1 (1000 words), 25%
  2. Written assignment 2 (3000 words), 75%
Mode of reassessment Standard