Humour, History and Politics in Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages

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Although the topic of humor has been dealt with for other eras, early medieval humor remains largely neglected. The essays collected here attempt to fill the gap, examining how the writers of early medieval sources deliberately employed humor to make their case. The essays range from the late Roman empire through to the tenth century, and from Byzantium to Anglo-Saxon England. The subject matter is diverse, but a number of themes link them together, notably the use of irony, ridicule and satire as political tools.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Review of the hardback: 'Whilst the overarching theme is humour and comedy, sophisticated issues of politics, hostility, and hermeneutics are raised. This is an exciting collection, erudite yet accessible, providing an entertaining and revealing resource for students and scholars alike.' Medium Aemm
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521133654
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 3/28/2010
  • Edition description: Reissue
  • Pages: 222
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Guy Halsall is Lecturer in History, Birkbeck College, University of London. His publications include Settlement and Social Organization: The Merovingian Region of Metz (Cambridge, 1995), Early Medieval Cemeteries: An Introduction to Cemetery Archaeology in the Post-Roman West (Glasgow, 1995) and (ed) Violence and Society in the Early Medieval West (Woodbridge, 1997).

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Table of Contents

Notes on contributors
List of abbreviations
Introduction: 'Don't worry, I've got the key' 1
1 Laughter and humour in the early medieval Latin west 25
2 Humour and the everyday in Byzantium 48
3 The lexicon of abuse: drunkenness and political illegitimacy in the late Roman world 75
4 Funny foreigners: laughing with the barbarians in late antiquity 89
5 Liutprand of Cremona's sense of humour 114
6 'He never even allowed his white teeth to be bared in laughter': the politics of humour in the Carolingian renaissance 131
7 Alcuin's Disputatio Pippini and the early medieval riddle tradition 157
8 Laughter after Babel's fall: misunderstanding and miscommunication in the ninth-century west 179
Index 203
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