In this course, we will explore the surprising humor of contemporary literature and film about climate change. In western cultures, humor is sometimes viewed as unable to express what is “important and essential,” in the words of scholar Mikhail Bakhtin. In this course, we will explore the more complex stories to be told about–and through–humorous arts. From comic horror to satire, surrealism, and absurdism, writers use the traditions of laughter to explore the possibilities of understanding, imagination, playfulness, and engagement in relation to climate change.
For centuries, scholars have debated the meanings and implications of laughter and humor. Students will be introduced to some of the major research on humor, including theories that associate humor with relief, incongruity (“the derangement of sense”), playfulness and social connection, and superiority. The course will also introduce and overview current research on climate change in literary studies and the humanities.
Readings include: David Yoon, City of Orange; Jennifer Mills, Dyschronia; and Ned Beauman, Venomous Lumpsucker. Films include: Jordan Peele, Nope; George Miller, Mad Max: Fury Road; Taika Waititi, Hunt for the Wilderpeople.