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Humour Summer School 2014
14th International Summer School and Symposium on Humour and Laughter: Theory, Research and Applications


Aims and Objectives

Interest in research on humour as well as practical applications of humour has been growing significantly over the past twenty years. In the course of this period, the field of humour research has expanded its scientific and scholarly basis and has established itself as a fertile, challenging, and exciting field of inter- and transdisciplinary inquiry.

The programme of the International Summer School and Symposium on Humour and Laughter is designed to provide both advanced students setting out on a research project and experienced researchers considering to enter the field of humour research with a thorough foundation in humour studies. It is our ambition to acquaint course participants with current theoretical models, with methodological issues and with factual knowledge to give them a sense of the complexity of the issues involved, and to steer them away from the pitfalls that are commonly encountered in the scientific study of humour.

To those interested in practical applications of humour in a variety of applied settings, the course offers an introduction to the approaches that are being used around the world to put humour to work and to deliver the benefits of humour and laughter.

Structure of Course

The course programme consists of different structural components which are intended to address the various interests and needs of the participants in the best possible way.

Lecture classes by a selected group of exerienced international scholars make up the bulk of the programme (see the main Summer School site for information about previous events). These "talks" are supplemented by workshops, a symposium, and opportunities for individual discussions with the speakers ("Meet the Lecturer"). Sessions are held from Monday morning to Saturday afternoon. One afternoon is set aside for relaxation and sight-seeing.

Lectures / Talks: Most of the presentations in the summer school programme are "talks" in the format of an academic lecture. They last for 45-50 minutes and are followed by a 10-15 minute period for questions and discussion. "Talks" constitute a single slot on the timetable.

Workshops: A "workshop" is a double slot (lasting from one to two hours) which gives presenters an opportunity to explore and examine their specific topics with greater depth. Traditionally, there have been parallel workshops with different topics so that participants are given a choice to pick a specialisation that is closest to their own work. A workshop may involve activities other than traditional lecturing, for example discussions, debates, or exercises performed by the audience.

Symposium: The "symposium" is a format in which participants present their planned, ongoing or completed research. They may also present ideas on how to implement and use humour in applied settings in any format that is suitable for this academic meeting. Depending on the total number of presentation, a time slot for an individual presentation in the symposium is limited to 15 or 20 minutes.

Participants will be given the opportunity to sign up for Meet the Lecturer sessions in which they can discuss questions regarding their individual projects with a lecturer of their choice.

Speakers and proposed lectures

Prof Christie Davies
Department of Sociology
University of Reading
Reading, England

  • Testing hypotheses about jokes; the ubiquitous jokes about Stupidity
  • The appearance and evolution of the disaster Joke
  • The importance of history in the understanding of ethnic jokes: Jokes about the French, the Italians and the Australians
  • Jokes and social classes

Dr Elena Hoicka
Department of Psychology
University of Sheffield
Sheffield, England

  • Children's understanding of humour: cognitive and socio cognitive perspectives
  • Children's generation of jokes

Dr Sharon Lockyer
Sociology and Communications
Brunel University
London, England

  • Critical perspectives on stand-up comedy
  • Comic constructions of disability

Dr Jessica Milner Davis
School of Media, Arts and Letters
University of Sydney
Sydney, Australia

  • Humour in pranks and hoaxes: The failed(?) Australian radio prank and other cases
  • The fool and topsy-turvydom: Comic heritage from the middle ages
  • Laughter: Time, freedom and Henri Bergson's theory of the comic
  • Can't take a joke? The etymology and practice of "piss-taking"

Prof Gina Mireault
Behavioral Sciences
Johnson State College
Johnson, Vermont, USA

  • In the beginning: Smiling, laughter and the emergence of humor in infancy
  • What's so funny? Infant humor as a social process

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

  • An overview of humour research
  • Incongruity-based theories of humour
  • The methodology of testing humour theories
  • The role of language in humour

Prof Willibald Ruch
Department of Psychology
University of Zurich
Zurich, Switzerland

  • Comic styles from Schmidt-Hidding until now: How many can we distinguish?
  • The new view on gelotophobia

Dr Natalia Skradol
Russian & Slavonic Studies
University of Sheffield
Sheffield, England

  • Obscene verses turned politically correct: Stalinist fake-lore>
  • The fate of garden gnomes in National Socialism: An unintended joke of Nazism

Prof Daniel Weiss
Slavic Linguistics,
University of Zurich
Zurich, Switzerland

  • Humour in a frustrated Parliament: the case of the Russian State Duma
  • The sense of humour of those in power: President Putin's record of verbal aggression

Dr Alessandro Valitutti
Department of Computer Science
University College Dublin
Dublin, Ireland

  • Introduction to computational humour
  • Playful dissection of humorous machines


Preliminary Schedule

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