Scribner Seminar Program
The Nature of Comedy
Instructor (s): Kate Greenspan, English
Comedy can delight, disarm, dismay, and persuade, deliver an argument or posit social change. But what comedy is, where it comes from, and what it is for has been much debated. Nevertheless, we all know comedy when we see it — don't we? Studying comedy in England, though, we will be surprised by the foreignness of British humor, coming as it does from a history, traditions and social and linguistic conditions we do not share. That foreignness will challenge our assumptions about the naturalness, the accessibility, the easiness of comedy as artifice, as a product of a particular time, place, and culture, and as a valid, versatile, and effective mode of expression. First-year Skidmore students studying comedy in England, moreover, will have the special advantage of experiencing first hand the incongruities between expectation and experience that lie at the heart of comedy.