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Laughing Awry

May 19, 2015

ISBN: 9780198729303 - Laughing Awry

Laughing Awry. Plautus and Tragicomedy (OUP) £60

Laughing Awry offers a comprehensive overview of key themes in the interpretation of the plays of Plautus, and explores the connections between deception, desire, slavery, genre, and audience. In doing so, it offers an account of the mechanisms of Plautus’ humour and the uncomfortable origins of laughter, revealing how his dramas do not just play to but also work on the audience. The volume examines the whole corpus of Plautine plays, providing longer accounts of selected dramas and choice scenes. An emphasis on methodological and theoretical questions is maintained throughout, and particular attention is paid to the psychic life of humour and its relationship to questions of social power. Chapters discuss, among other topics, the problem of writing about humour, Plautus’ reception by subsequent Roman authors, the plays’ embedded social theory, the intersection of circuits of desire, laughter as a scandalous surfeit, and the sublime perversity of laughter. The volume asks what we are laughing at, why we laugh, and what this laughter means.
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