You are welcome, for we welcome you to Western University’s 15th Annual Graduate Student Conference hosted by the Comparative Literature and Hispanic Studies programs. This event will take place way before Canadian Spring hits, from March 1 – 3, 2013. The conference organizers particularly welcome papers that are interdisciplinary, including but not limited to literature, theory, cultural studies, film studies, visual arts, music, theatre, linguistics and popular culture.
In May, 1968, a much re-stencilled graffito on the walls of Paris, France, read “L’ennui est contre-révolutionnaire” – “Boredom is counterrevolutionary,” as the English would say. Decades before, Bakhtin showed us that the carnivalesque helps humour flip the accepted on its head and make it spin into the more acceptable. From Aristophanes, Gogol, Rabelais, and Cervantes up to Chaplin, Breytenbach, Cortázar, Hikmet and Kathy Acker – all of them have done that. So too did the wisecracking superheroes, commedia dell’arte or Ionesco’s characters, stand-up comedians, Woody Allen and the Seinfelds. The laughs they stir are not so innocent, for their puns and pranks, their impressions and caricatures help carry on the uphill battle against the fast regrouping armies of ennui.
This gathering invites you to think about humour as a critique and to develop a critique of humour. We want to crack the ground and consider how laughter has been used to subvert and convert the world throughout the ages. We wish to open the floor to discussions around varieties of humour which could offer relief from repression. As bright vivacity in the face of the tyranny of the mundane, the routine and the norm, laughter gives us a way to question, deflate and reverse power structures. From the conversational joke to the stage burlesque, the humour has effectively critiqued regimes, stereotypes, societal roles and more via satire, parody, irony, mockery… or has it?
We want to explore how humour varies culturally and historically. As a Gargantuan component of social change, laughter has the power to both unite and exclude. As traditional borders are getting stuck in the united dustbins of the world, is humour becoming more selective? More universal? More shy? Do ‘humorist’ borders or limits of humour still exist? Do they coincide with the frontiers of the languages? Can the phonetics of humour open up the phonological differences between languages? Is there a global humor, or is everyone just making fun of us?
Suggested paper topics may include but are certainly not limited to the following:
Keywords: Parody, satire, black comedy, destabilizing laughter, laughter, rebellion
– Puns, wordplay, formal vs. informal language, humour in translation, cultural jokes
– Humour in graphic novels, comics, political cartoons, protest paintings/art
– Stand-up comedy and mocking the audience; self-deprecation; improvisation
– The feminist laughter; responses to misogyny; flipping the male gaze
– Laughing with the postcolonials
– Laughter and politics
– Laughter and the avant-garde
– Laughter and social change
– The aesthetics of laughter
– Modern vs. postmodern comic
– Humour – burlesque – grotesque
– Languages in funny contact
– Tears (of joy, despair or laughter)
– Syntax and semantics of the joke
– Language acquisition and humour
– Discourse Analysis and humor
Individuals interested in presenting 20-minute papers must submit a 300 word abstract to firstname.lastname@example.org before January 1st 2013. Please include name, affiliation, technical requirements and a 50 word biography with the abstract. As this is a conference organized by two programs, we will accept abstracts and papers in both English and Spanish (as panels in Spanish will be also held). For further information, please check out our Facebook page (Good Laugh Bad Laugh Ugly Laugh My Laugh).