Comedy as a genre has long been associated with low forms of pleasure, whether the delight we take in bodily functions and malfunctions, shameful and embarrassing accidents (the proverbial banana peel), or jealous and overzealous lovers. Yet for all its juvenile status, comedy is highly sophisticated and provocative: addressing taboo and transgressive topics, working through norms of gender, sexuality, class, and race; satirizing political events, and calling attention to its own status as fiction. This course will survey the history of comedy as a genre, beginning with ancient Greece and continuing into Renaissance Europe and contemporary American film and television. Likely texts will include Aristophanes’ Lysistrata, medieval fabliaux, Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Nights Dream, Austen’s Northanger Abbey; films by Chaplin and Kubrick; sitcoms including I Love Lucy, standup including Cho, Pryor, and Kaufman.
Lower-division Elective courses allow students to choose (or “elect”) courses or faculty specific to their own developing interests, enabling them thereby to shape their own educational experience.
Genre courses address a single literary/cinematic genre or “kind.”-- such as tragedy, autobiography, lyric, romance, etc.-- with the purpose of teaching students to read and perform critical, formal analyses of literary, cinematic, and cultural texts. These courses help prepare students for the backbone of our curriculum: the Foundations of the English Major sequence (ENG 301-2-3).