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Humour Summer School 2012
12th International Summer School and Symposium on Humour and Laughter: Theory, Research and Applications

Programme 2012

Aims and Objectives

Interest in both research on humour and practical applications of humour has increased sharply in the past decade. For new research students just beginning their research careers or those already-trained researchers considering a first research project on humour, this course will ensure that they enter the field with a strong foundation in existing theoretical and methodological issues, and are well versed in the pitfalls confronting the scientific study of humour. For those interested in practical applications of humour in a variety of applied settings, the course will introduce them to the kinds of approaches that are being used around the world to put humour to work and to deliver the benefits of humour and laughter.

Outline of the Schedule of the Course

  • The Summer School will be opened on Monday, July 2 at 10.45 o'clock (coordinated with the flight from Helsinki).In the rest of the week  daily work will start  at 9.00  o'clock and will be finished at 18 o'clock  at the latest. Coffee and lunch breaks are included. 
  • On Wednesday, July 4,  we'll  go for excursion to Parikkala Statue Park  at 12.00  - 16.00 o'clock and in the evening  attend to the general rehearsal of the tragicomic opera  "La Fenice"  at the Castle.
  • The Symposium will take place on Thursday afternoon at 14.00 - 18.00 o'clock, and Summer School dinner on Friday evening at 18.00 - 21.00 at Hotel Hospitz (Linnanaktu 20).
  • The Summer School will be closed on Saturday, July 7, at 15.00 - 16.00 o'clock.


The types of sessions


  •  These usually last about 45-50 minutes with a further 10 minutes or so for questions and discussion. These constitute a single slot on the timetable. Most of the presentations are Talks.

Meet the Lecturer sessions

  • There will also be  on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday morning Meet the Lecturer sessions, where a participant can sign up for a short one-to-one discussion with a lecturer of his/her choice.


Symposium and Poster Exhibition

In the symposium and poster exhibition participants may present their planned or finished research, or ideas on how to implement and use humour in applied settings, in any form they like.

  • Presentation of the papers: about 15 min.  including discussion.
  • Posters: Maximum size  75 cm x  105 cm. Presentation  5 - 10 min.


Speakers and Topics of Lectures

Dr Jessica Milner Davis (University of Sidney) 

  •  Cross-cultural challenges in studying humour: Contemporary social attitudes and conventions about the use of humour in Australia, Japan and China

  • Laughter: Time,freedom and Henri Bergson’s theory of the comic

  • The long tradition of humour therapy and the theory of humours, East and West

  • Experiencing Humour: A Conceptual Model of Interpersonal Transaction

Professor Christie Davies (Department of Sociology, University of Reading, England)

  • Testing hypotheses about jokes: the Strange case of Finland

  • The poverty of theory: Why theories of humour and social theories are of limited use

  • The importance of history in the understanding of ethnic jokes: Jokes about the French, the Italians and the Australians

  •  Using the Comparative Method: Mother-in-law Jokes and Kinship System 

Composer Kimmo Hakola  (Savonlinna Operafestival)

  • Composing tragi-comic opera

Professor Seppo Knuuttila (Department of Folkloristics, University of Eastern Finland)

  • Is seriousness the opposite of humour and laughter 

Dr Liisi Laineste (Tartu Literary Museum)

  • Researching humour on internet

  • The kernel of truth in jokes

Professor Gina Mireault (Johnson State College, Vermont)

  • Smiling, laughter & humor in the first year: A developmental perspective

  • How do infants know what is funny? Humor as part of social context and social referencing

Main Secretary Riitta Moisander  (Arts Council of South Savo, Finland)

  • Humour in visual arts - Parikkala statuepark as an example

Professor  Pirkko Muikku-Werner (University of Eastern Finland)

  • Teasing – We are not amused or are we?

Professor Jussi Pakkasvirta (University of Helsinki)

  • Interdisciplinay research attitude as perspective on cultural phenomena (like humour)

Dr Graeme Ritchie (Department of Computing Science, University of Aberdeen, Scotland)

  • An overview of humour research

  • Incongruity and its resolution

  • Annotating data (method)

  • The role of language in humour

Professor Willibald Ruch (Department of Psychology, University of Zurich, Switzerland)

  • Humour and positive psychology

  • The expression of joy: From Darwin to Ekman

  • Smiling and laughter: Origin, types and measurement

  • Dispositions to ridicule and being laughed at : Gelotophobia in school children

Professor Sven Svebak (Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim, Norway)

  • Conceptual challenges in the relationship of sense of humour and health issues

  •  Potential mechanisms explaining the effect of sense of humor upon bodily health



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