Course: Comedy and Satire

HC 222H

Professor: Corinne Bayerl

This seminar will explore how writers and filmmakers have used comedy and satire as a weapon, resorting to irony and laughter in order to address serious problems in their societies.

How did we end up with our current perception of comedy as harmless entertainment, and of satire as a form of political activism? We will be reading comedic plays and satirical texts from the sixteenth century to the mid-twentieth century, and will discuss in which ways comedy and satire are related in their attempt to occupy spaces more commonly thought to be reserved for earnest argument and debate. 

Readings may include Aphra Behn, Molière, Voltaire, Cavendish, Swift, Wilde, Gogol, Twain, Shaw, Hašek. Films by Stanley Kubrick, Charlie Chaplin, Billy Wilder.