HC221H - Comedy and Disability

Professor: Brian Trapp

4.00 credits

  • CRN 22382: Tuesday & Thursday, 12:00-1:20pm @ STR 254

In this class, we’ll explore comedy as a productive and exciting aesthetic lens to examine ideas about disability. We’ll start with thinking about the ethics of comedy, and how comedy has often relied on damaging portrayals of people with disabilities. But then we’ll shift towards examining how disabled artists are using the comic mode to talk back to oppressive histories and to interrogate notions of normality and disability, health and disease, the grotesque and sentimentality, neurodiversity and mental illness. We’ll study comic writers and performers working in sketch comedy, standup, the comic novel, memoir, film, and television such as Hannah Gadsby, Maria Bamford, Maysoon Zayid, Zach Anner, Stanley Elkin, and others. We will also study critical texts to give us a historical background and critical lens in disability studies and comic studies from scholars like Tobin Seibers, Paul Longmore, Alice Hall, Andrew Stott, and Mikhail Bakhtin. Student work will include discussion leading, cultural object presentations, a short critical essay, and a final project. For the final project, students will have the option to create a creative and comedic work of their own based on their experiences as disabled individuals, caregivers, or allies.