PHIL 4450: Special Topics:
Philosophy of Humor

Student Materials

Course Syllabus

The Humor Lab

First Paper

Second Paper

Final Project

1. Course Introduction

HUMOR

2. “A Brief History of Humor Theories” by Matthew M. Hurley, Daniel C. Dennett, and Reginald B. Adams, Jr. (PDF)

3. Philebus (selections) by Plato (PDF), Poetics (selections) and Nicomachean Ethics (selections) by Aristotle (PDF), and Leviathan (selections) and Human Nature (selections) by Thomas Hobbes (PDF)

4. Reflections Upon Laughter (selections) by Francis Hutcheson (PDF) and The World As Will and Idea (selections) by Arthur Schopenhauer (PDF)

5. “The Physiology of Laughter” by Herbet Spencer (PDF) and “Humor” by Sigmund Freud (PDF)

6. “A New Theory of Laughter” by John Morreall (PDF)

7. Humor as a Response to Nihilism [with Postscript]” by John Marmysz (PDF)

8. “The Epistemology of the Funny” by Liz Sills (PDF)

9. Guest: Liz Sills

JOKES

10. “On Jokes” by Nöel Carroll (PDF)

11. Jokes: Philosophical Thoughts on Joking Matters by Ted Cohen, pp. 1-45 (Amazon.com)

12. Jokes: Philosophical Thoughts on Joking Matters by Ted Cohen, pp. 45-86 (Amazon.com)

STAND-UP COMEDY

13. “Standup Comedy” by Stephanie Koziski Olson (PDF)

14. “Twentieth-Century Stand-Up: A History of Charged Critique” by Rebecca Krefting (PDF)

15. Film: Richard Pryor: Live in Concert

16. “The Comedy of Richard Pryor as Social Satire” by Elsie Griffin Williams (PDF)

17. Guest: LeShane Lindsey

18. “Performing Marginality: Comedy, Identity, and Cultural Critique” by Joanne C. Gilbert (PDF)

19. Film: Hannah Gadsby: Nanette

ETHICS, POLITICS, AND HUMOR

20. “When Is It Wrong to Laugh?” by Ronald de Sousa (PDF)

21. “The Ethics of Humor: Can Your Sense of Humor Be Wrong?” by Aaron Smuts (PDF)

22. “Gallows Humor in Medicine” by Katie Watson (PDF)

23. “An Existentialist Account of the Role of Humor Against Oppression” by Chris A Kramer (PDF)

24. Film: The Last Laugh

25. Film: The Last Laugh

26. Cracking Up: American Humor in a Time of Conflict by Paul Lewis, pp. 1-107 (Amazon.com)

27. Cracking Up: American Humor in a Time of Conflict by Paul Lewis, pp. 109-199 (Amazon.com)

28. Videos: Stephen Colbert at WHCA Dinner (YouTube) and Michelle Wolf at WHCA Dinner (YouTube)

© Douglas Ficek