Media and film studies

Comedy and Cultural Belonging

Module code: V3035
Level 6
30 credits in spring teaching
Teaching method: Seminar
Assessment modes: Coursework

Comedy is, above all, a cultural form that invites its audiences to feel that they belong – to a social community, a class, a locality, a nation, a subculture, a gender, a sexual identity, an ethnic group, a community of interest, or a complex intersection of several of these.

This module explores the relationship between comedy and belonging by considering a number of conceptual fields, such as:

  • theories of the comedic
  • questions of identity formation
  • notions of representation and stereotyping
  • structures of power and resistance
  • the sexual politics of jokes
  • concepts of carnival and excess
  • the idea of a 'national sense of humour'
  • the use of comic strategies by 'minority' groups
  • the complexities of camp
  • the role of class in cultural consumption.

The initial focus is on 20th-century British popular comedy. The comic texts and practitioners studied might include Alan Bennett, Mike Leigh, Victoria Wood, the music hall tradition, the Ealing comedies, the Carry On films, Morecambe and Wise, The League of Gentlemen and The Royle Family.

Module learning outcomes

  • Deploy critical and systematic analysis of comedy texts.
  • Demonstrate appropriate understanding of critical debates on the cultural and political significance of comedy and belonging.
  • Demonstrate appropriate understanding of methodological issues raised in approaching comedic texts.
  • Apply the critical approaches encountered on the model to an extended study.
  • Demonstrate appropriate capacity for individual research and skills in written communication.