Towards a model for humour in nineteenth-century poetry - A conceptual study and an analysis of a growing subjectivity

Project Details


Humour, a form of non-seriousness that primarily amuses or lightens the mood without mainly depending on a philosophical or social message, plays a specific role in nineteenth-century European literature. It expresses an author’s psychology as a playful romantic genius, a clever observer or a sympathetic figure, and demonstrates a growing importance of subjectivity in non-serious literature. This research seeks to create a model for such humour in poetry. The corpus consists of eight works from four language areas in nineteenth-century NW Europe .

Dominant textual humour models, such as the General Theory of Verbal Humour, have often strived for a more objective scientificity, putting little emphasis on lingual creativity superseding the ordinary phrasing of jokes. This makes them unsuited for poetic analysis. My model shall combine ideas from dominant humour models with ideas from cognitive poetics. Because of this combination, my model will firstly reconcile the evolution of humour theory towards the greater objectivity of cognitive research with literary scholars’ goal to account for “writerly” lingual creativity. Secondly, existing discussions in cognitive poetics will allow for a discussion of the limitations of a model striving for objectivity when faced with humorous subjectivity. The proposed research should lead to new insights on what characterizes poetic humour, especially in nineteenth-century texts.
Effective start/end date1/11/2031/10/24


  • humour model
  • poetry
  • nineteenth century

Flemish discipline codes in use since 2023

  • Poetics
  • Literatures in Dutch
  • Narratology
  • Literatures in French
  • Stylistics and textual analysis


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