Taking Humour Seriously
Routledge, 1994 - 203
First published in 1993. When do we laugh? Why do we laugh? What makes us stop? What does 'humour' consist of? Listen to any everyday conversation: it is full of the constant interruptions and detours of humour. Look at the TV schedules for any evening--how many of the programmes are comedies or contain a degree of humour? Humour and comedy invite our pleasure at every step we take--they are absolutely integral to any culture. In Taking Humour Seriously, Jerry Palmer argues that we must take humour seriously (as well as humorously) or fail to understand a fundamental part of culture. Taking Humour Seriously unravels the reasons why humour is a challenge for every different theoretical approach. It is multi-dimensional, it is part of personality and part of our cognitive and emotional processes; it is subject to social rules governing appropriate behaviour on different occasions. It is part of literary and audio-visual narrative; it is subject to moral and aesthetic judgment, and it is a rhetorical instrument. Palmer argues that it is only through investigating those separate dimensions that we can begin to understand the phenomenon of humour. Taking Humour Seriously examines the role humour and comedy play in many different types of society. It also looks at the many different approaches to its study--from Freud to anthropology, from literary criticism to biology. Finally it considers its limits--the things that prevent humour and comedy from delivering their usual pleasures--and explores the aesthetic value of those pleasures.
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