Laughter in the Middle Ages and Early Modern Times
Epistemology of a Fundamental Human Behavior, its Meaning, and Consequences
Ed. by Classen, Albrecht
Aims and Scope
Despite popular opinions of the ‘dark Middle Ages’ and a ‘gloomy early modern age,’ many people laughed, smiled, giggled, chuckled, entertained and ridiculed each other. This volume demonstrates how important laughter had been at times and how diverse the situations proved to be in which people laughed, and this from late antiquity to the eighteenth century. The contributions examine a wide gamut of significant cases of laughter in literary texts, historical documents, and art works where laughter determined the relationship among people. In fact, laughter emerges as a kaleidoscopic phenomenon reflecting divine joy, bitter hatred and contempt, satirical perspectives and parodic intentions. In some examples protagonists laughed out of sheer happiness and delight, in others because they felt anxiety and insecurity. It is much more difficult to detect premodern sculptures of laughing figures, but they also existed. Laughter reflected a variety of concerns, interests, and intentions, and the collective approach in this volume to laughter in the past opens many new windows to the history of mentality, social and religious conditions, gender relationships, and power structures.
- ix, 853 pages
- Num. figs.
- Type of Publication:
- Laughter / in Literature
- Academics, Departments, Libraries
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"The book aims at an interdisciplinary and multi-layered approach to the highly complex phenomenon of laughter in the Middle Ages and early modern times."
Stefan Seeber in: Medium Aevum Vol. LXXX, 2011