Non-human characters and humour in the works of Paulien Cornelisse and May Kendall: A narratological and post-humanist analysis

Activity: Talk or presentationTalk or presentation at a conference

Description

Through a double case study of a poem by Victorian author May Kendall and a comedy show by contemporary Dutch comedian Paulien Cornelisse, my presentation studies humour relying on “non- human” characters that act, think or that are treated in typically human ways. The script-based humour theories by Victor Raskin and Salvatore Attardo allows for the analysis of texts containing this kind of humour, since the trope involves a partly resolved opposition between the semantic scripts evoked by the text, the opposition being of the type “human vs. non-human”. However, in fictional narratives, story events in which the differences between human and non-human behaviours, consciousnesses, and conditions are seemingly ignored are not always humorous (e.g. serious fables, fantasy, sci-fi). My study firstly combines insights from textual humour theory with insights from literary theory and cognitive narratology to analyse which literary strategies and contexts make a reader interpret the trope in a humorous way. Secondly, from a posthumanist perspective and using insights from critical humour studies, I investigate to what degree the humour problematizes or reinforces the anthropocentric view of an absolute opposition between human and animal. Finally, I analyse to what extent and how my findings contribute to a reading of each work as criticizing an anthropocentric worldview. References: Attardo, Salvatore. Humorous texts: A semantic and pragmatic analysis. Walter de Gruyter, 2010. Raskin, Victor. Semantic Mechanisms of Humor. Springer Science & Business Media, 1984.
Period30 Jun 2022
Event title32nd International Society of Humor Studies Conference: Funny? Seriously? Seriously! Funny!
Event typeConference
LocationBertinoro, Italy
Degree of RecognitionInternational