Humour is without doubt a vital element of the human condition butit has rarely been the subject of serious historical research. Yeta closer look at jokes and other comic phenomena shows us that thenature of humour changes from one period to another, and that thesechanges can provide us with important insights into the social andcultural developments of the past. This important and highly original book sets out to explore theterra incognita of humour through the ages - from jokes and stagehumour in Greece and Rome to the jestbooks of early modern Europe,from practical jokes in Renaissance Italy to comic painting duringthe Dutch Golden Age, from Bakhtin's conception of laughter to thejoking relationships of anthropologists. These innovative accounts move humour into the centre of social andcultural history and throw an unexpected light on life and mannersthrough the ages.
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About the Author
Jan Mremmer, University of Groningen
Herman Roodenburg, P.J. Meertens-Institute RoyalNetherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences, Amsterdam
Table of Contents
List of illustrations.
Notes on contributors.
Introduction: Humour and History: Jan Bremmer and HermanRoodenburg.
1. Jokes, Jokers and Jokebooks in Ancient Greek Culture: JanBremmer.
2. Cicero, Plautus and Roman Laughter: Fritz Graf.
3. Laughter in the Middle Ages: Jacques Le Goff.
4. Bakhtin and his Theory of Carnival: Aaron Gurevich.
5. Frontiers of the Comic in Early Modern Italy, c1350-1750:Peter Burke.
6. The Comic and the Counter Reformation in the SpanishNetherlands: Johan Verberckmoes.
7. Prose Jest-Books Mainly in the Sixteenth to EighteenthCenturies in England: Derek Brewer.
8. To Converse Agreeably: Civility and the Telling of Jokes inSeventeenth-Century Holland: Herman Roodenburg.
9. How was Jan Steen Funny? Strategies and Functions of ComicPainting in the Seventeenth Century: Mariet Westermann.
10. Parliamentary Hilarity Inside the French ConstitutionalAssembly (1789-91): Antoine de Baecque.
11. Humour and the Public Sphere in Nineteenth-Century Germany:Mary Lee Townsend.
12. Humour, Laughter and the Field: Reflections fromAnthropology: Henk Driessen.
13. Humour and History: A Research Bibliography: JohanVerberckmoes.
Index of Names.
Index of Subjects.