This course will examine the comic in French theatre, literature, politics, and film in order to answer a deceptively simple question: What makes us laugh? In theoretical readings we will consider whether laughter is a universal, cross-cultural function. Additionally, we will look at special, sub-genres of the comic, such as satire and parody, in order to question the relationship between comic genres and the real world. Does comedy seek to change the world or does it merely want to point to its foibles? Is it a progressive or conservative mode? What is its role in bringing about political, social, or even literary change and innovation? We will conclude by considering whether comedy is dead today. Authors studied will include Rabelais, Corneille, Molière, Voltaire, Beaumarchais, Beckett, Bakhtin, Bergson, and Freud. Advanced level. Conducted in French.
Corequisites: Language Series