Laughing Victorians

University of Roehampton

Course Description

  • Course Name

    Laughing Victorians

  • Host University

    University of Roehampton

  • Location

    London, England

  • Area of Study


  • Language Level

    Taught In English

  • Course Level Recommendations


    ISA offers course level recommendations in an effort to facilitate the determination of course levels by credential evaluators.We advice each institution to have their own credentials evaluator make the final decision regrading course levels.

    Hours & Credits

  • UK Credits

  • Recommended U.S. Semester Credits
  • Recommended U.S. Quarter Units
  • Overview

    Assessment: coursework (5000 words)
    'We are not amused?, Queen Victoria is famously reputed to have said. And yet, if 19th century novels, poetry and comic periodicals are to be believed, Victorians spent a great deal of time guffawing, giggling, smirking and generally being very amused. But what is the role and the function of laughter in the Victorian period? Is it merely light-hearted fun - a relief from the stresses and strains of Victorian life - or does it have more serious and resonant purposes? And how did the Victorians themselves theorize laughter, both its causes, effects - and its targets? In this course, we trace a genealogy of nineteenth-century humour in a variety of visual and textual forms: from lampoon, illustration and caricature, to nonsense fiction, whimsy and satire (on politics, social types and evolution) to the domestic comedies of high Victorian realism and the identity-challenging quips of fin-de-siècle laughter. We will also consider what 19th century laughter theorists had to say on the subject, from Charles Darwin to Herbert Spencer, George Meredith, Henri Bergson and Sigmund Freud ? and discuss these theories with reference to brief excerpts from modern TV comedies.

Course Disclaimer

Courses and course hours of instruction are subject to change.

Eligibility for courses may be subject to a placement exam and/or pre-requisites.

Some courses may require additional fees.

Credits earned vary according to the policies of the students' home institutions. According to ISA policy and possible visa requirements, students must maintain full-time enrollment status, as determined by their home institutions, for the duration of the program.

Please reference fall and spring course lists as not all courses are taught during both semesters.

Please note that some courses with locals have recommended prerequisite courses. It is the student's responsibility to consult any recommended prerequisites prior to enrolling in their course.


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