Department of English UG Module Directory (2020)

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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 the film Four Lions and the first series of the sitcoms Fleabag and The Office (UK version). These are widely available via streaming services and on DVD at less than £5 each. In addition, I will arrange a screening of Four Lions.
Learning Context Long Seminar
Semester 1

1. Short Essay (1,500 words), 30%
2. Long Essay (3,000 words), 70%

Mode of reassessment Standard
Contact Huw Marsh