There is a striking divide, in the literature on comedy, between approaches that stress the social functions of humor, including social control and alleviation of social stresses, and approaches that focus on the psychological mechanisms of humor, including incongruity and arousal. These two kinds of approach have proven quite resistant to integration, because they are rooted in fundamentally different understandings of the pleasure of humor. Put simply, the pleasure of the put-down is hard to square with the pleasure of the pun. This article examines new scientific research on humor, including recent brain imaging studies, to see if there is any evidence for an empirical divide. The conclusion, in practical analytical terms, is that when, near the start of Shaun of the Dead (2004), Shaun fails to notice that he is surrounded by zombies, our perception of the inappropriateness of the character's actions and our perception of the playfulness of the depiction are both necessarily involved in our perception of the scene's funniness.
Most films, most of the time, are affectively unified. What I call “synesthetic affects” are orchestrated in an attempt to provide a holistic affective experience congruent with the film's unfolding narrative and thematic concerns. Yet Terrence Malick's The Thin Red Line elicits contradictory or incongruent affects, such incongruence neither being justified by genre conventions, “excess,” irony, nor stumbled upon through incompetence. The Thin Red Line elicits incongruent emotions for the purposes of generating an experience of rumination and wonder. The study of such incongruent emotions, still in its infancy, raises important methodological issues about the study of mixed emotions and the conventions for mixing affects in the cinema.
Sfar, Meyran and Delcourt Recount Voltaire
Since the millennium, bande dessinée artists have retold Voltaire's Candide three times. The first Candide is by Joann Sfar, the second by Philippe Meyran, and the third, by Gorian Delpâture, Michel Dufranne and Vujadin Radovanovic, is being published by Delcourt. This article begins with a brief presentation of the work. Taking our three Candides in chronological order, I then examine how Sfar, Meyran and the Delcourt version retell the story. Specific excerpts are studied, with emphasis on how far they convey Voltaire's irony. We shall see how Sfar finds new ways to infuse Candide with irony. Analogies with medieval illuminations intimate that the great iconoclast is being sanctified. Moreover, Sfar's grotesque artwork contrasts with Voltaire's elegant prose. Thus, Sfar adds a visual dimension to Voltaire's incongruities between what is said and what is meant. Sfar also jokes about ideas raised by Voltaire including philosophical optimism, anti-Semitism and Utopianism. Meyran depicts the hero's sequence of misfortunes with faux naïf caricature. Thus, he makes visible an incongruity between narrative developments and the manner of their recounting. Yet Meyran usually weakens (or eliminates) irony, while playing down philosophical and polemical issues. The Delcourt version employs elegant, technically accomplished artwork. The narrative is not without irony although engagement is intermittent. This work places emphasis on recounting a fast-moving adventure rather than elaborating upon the story's philosophical underpinnings.
Global Memory, Trauma and the 'Negative Sublime'
Andrew S. Gross
This essay argues that the construction of the Jewish Museum Berlin and the Berlin Holocaust Memorial constitutes a paradigm shift in Holocaust commemoration in Germany. The structures architecturally resemble their US counterparts and particularly the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum more than they do the other memorials and museums in Berlin’s complex commemorative landscape. American responses to the European catastrophe have significantly impacted European commemorative forms. Indeed, an internationally recognizable memorial architecture seems to be emerging, one emphasizing gaps, voids, incongruities and the personal relation to what theorists and commentators have begun to call ‘negative’ or ‘evil sublime’. Contemporary memorials and museums are not designed to ‘merely’ house collections; rather, they draw attention to themselves as symbols and symptoms of traumatic memory. They act out the trauma of the Holocaust as architecture; walking through them is supposed to be a step towards working through that trauma as feeling and experience.
Motherhood and HIV/AIDS as Sites of Action
Pamela J. Downe
Ongoing discussions about feminist anthropology as an active and relevant sub-discipline largely rely on historical comparisons that pit the political fervour of the past against what is deemed to be the less defined and increasingly disengaged feminist anthropology of today. In this paper, I argue that the prevailing tone of pessimism surrounding feminist anthropology should be met with a critical response that: (1) situates the current characterization of the sub-discipline within broader debates between second- and third-wave feminism; and (2) considers the ways in which the supposed incongruity between theories of deconstruction and political engagement undermines the sub-discipline's strengths. Throughout this discussion, I consider what an ethnographic study of motherhood in the context of HIV/AIDS can offer as we take stock of feminist anthropology's current potential and future possibility.
David E. Long
In an ethnographic study set within a biology department of a public university in the United States, incongruity between the ideals and practice of science education are investigated. Against the background of religious conservative students' complaints about evolution in the curriculum, biology faculty describe their political intents for fostering science literacy. This article examines differences that emerge between the department's rhetorical commitment to improve science understanding amongst their students and the realities of course staffing and anxieties about promotion and tenure. Because tenure-track faculty are motivated to focus their careers on research productivity and teaching biology majors, other biology courses are staffed with adjunct instructors who are less equipped to negotiate complex pedagogies of science and religion. In practice, faculty avoid risky conversations about evolution versus creationism with religiously conservative students. I argue that such faculty are complicit, through their silence, in failing to equip their students with the science literacy which their own profession avows is crucial for a well-informed citizenry in a democracy.
Hawks 1948 Western. He has been arguing that Hollywood narratives somewhat necessarily contain gaps in order to provide sufficient challenge and complexity for a spectator, with the pleasure deriving from “novelty, complexity, incongruity, dissonance
A Semiotics of Subjectivity in Stand-up Comedy
serious subjects instead of the comic, although humor has been the topic of sporadic interest since antiquity. 2 The three classic theories are superiority, release, and incongruity. Superiority theory sees humor as being, at heart, aggressive. An early
Constitutive Acts of the Subject in Gezi Park, Istanbul
Christopher Houston and Banu Senay
AKP were widespread in Turkey (and beyond) during the first decade of AKP rule. In particular, in the series of incongruities with which pre-Gezi Park Atatürkist humor played, cartoons and jokes revealed not only the theoretical presuppositions of a
Ethical Experience, Trauma, and History
reference for audience engagement, a robust structure, and extensive aesthetic lexicons for emotional comprehension. Style, Aesthetics, and Ambiguous Cinematic Emotions: Aimless Bullet and Korean Realism In an article on “affective incongruity