FT 07-O Exploring the Role of Humor in Our Lives
Michele Pittard, Department of Teacher Education
"Men show their character in nothing more clearly than by what they think laughable."(Goethe)
" A laugh can be a very powerful thing. Why sometimes in life, it's the only weapon we have." (Roger Rabbit)
"Stupid people, who do not know how to laugh, are always pompous and self-conceited; that is, ungentle, uncharitable, unchristian." (Thackeray)
What is the role of humor in our lives? Scientifically, historically, emotionally, cognitively, developmentally, culturally.... what does humor mean to us? How does it sustain us as human beings? How does it help us make sense of the world? How do different cultures define humor? What's funny and what's offensive? If laughter is the best medicine, then how can humor ever be bad or wrong? These and other similar questions will be considered as students and professor collaborate to examine the ways in which humor plays significant roles in our lives as human beings in a world that can be pretty depressing. A variety of guest speakers, field trips, course readings, films, class discussions (both real and virtual), and a wide range of writing assignments will enable students to understand, question, and critically examine the complex, and sometimes, hilarious position humor holds in society. Although a number of course reading will be determined by students' individual inquiry topics, the class will study a variety of texts from the popular press as well as academic research. Students will design their own inquiry projects and choose their topics of study related to humor. No doubt, we'll laugh during the semester, but we will also engage in a serious study of humor, the various styles of humor, and the evolution of humor over the course of human history and across a variety of cultures.