Accessibility statement

The Academy Just Isn’t Funny Enough

Tuesday 22 January 2013, 5.30PM

A Lightning Rods event

Should Sigmund Freud just stop moaning about mourning? Jacques Lacan get over his sense of lack? Judith Butler her melancholy? And Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick her shame? Is Lauren Berlant correct that all optimism is a cruel trick? Sara Ahmed right to resist the promise of happiness and to embrace the position of the killjoy? And is Lee Edelman on the money when he claims that there’s no happy future in sight?

Should the academy just lighten up? After all, are jokes always aggressive? Is humour ‘merely’ escapist? Why is tragedy more academically defensible and apparently thinkable than comedy? What are the potentials and pitfalls of working on comedy or working in a humorous mode in different subject areas, disciplines, regions and periods? And, finally, what might happen if the humanities decided to focus on the comic as part of a portfolio of positive affects?

This short, informal Lightning Rods seminar, open to all, takes up these questions, and wonders whether happiness could and should give misery a run for its intellectual money. 

Speakers will include:

  • Professor Guy Halsall (Department of History) 
  • Dr Carolyn Hunter (York Management School) 
  • Dr Lisa Peschel (Department of Theatre, Film and Television)
  • Dr Bryan Radley (Department of English and Related Literature)


Lightning Rods is a forum for ideas which cross the boundaries between different areas of expertise within and beyond the Humanities Research Centre.  The purpose of Lightning Rods is to open a conversation which starts from a book, film, event or idea which has had effects, repercussions, and a kind of electrical energy, in different areas of knowledge and research.  More

Location: The Treehouse, Berrick Saul Building

Admission: All welcome