Comedy and the Comic Ruhr-Universität Bochum
Why do we laugh when we see a toddler taking his or her first steps, when we watch a male comedian impersonating a woman or when someone tells us that a sadist is a person who is nice to a masochist? Do all of these phenomena have a common denominator? And if so, what is it? After looking at some answers to these questions, we will move on to the genre which is most closely associated with laughter and the comic, i.e. dramatic comedy. I will provide a model of the genre and a typology of its most popular modes (romance, sentiment, satire, play ...); representative plays will be analysed in the light of these theoretical considerations. The focus will be on three early modern and on two twentieth-century comedies: William Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream and As You Like It, Ben Jonson’s Volpone, G.B. Shaw’s Pygmalion, and Tom Stoppard’s Arcadia. I will also discuss Notting Hill, a film based on the tradition of dramatic comedy. I am planning to give the lecture on campus (while also making it available as a podcast). However, depending on the Covid situation, I might record the lecture and make it available as a videocast.Required texts: students who want to prepare for the lecture should read the plays mentioned above. No particular editions are required.
Assessment: written exam or oral exam.
Online Course Requirement
Programme: English Studies
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