Visual Valence: Wit, Ingenuity and Humor in Premodern European Visual Culture
210 Tappan
W 1:00-4:00pm
3 Credit Seminar

Visual humor is of increasing scholarly interest (for instance, treated in this year's conference "Rire en images á la Renaissance" in Paris), yet it needs to be theorized more carefully and understood in historical terms. This seminar thus considers influential theories of humor, from Aristotle and Cicero to Castiglione, Freud, Huizinga and Bakhtin. It moves beyond the ugly, grotesque and obscene to investigate also the place of humor in other visual modes, such as religious imagery (eg smiling angels) and natural history (eg the "serious joke"). Genres to be differentiated include parody, satire, ridicule, puns and caricature. Further, we study the relationship between affect/emotions and humor, and the centrality of ingenuity and deceit to the production and appreciation of visual wit. Estimated cost of materials: less than $50.