Text and Context: Roman Laughter (CLA2405)

15 credits

What made the Romans laugh? What were the limits of Roman humour? What does this reveal about Roman culture and society? This module addresses some of the key issues of the politics and poetics of Roman humour. It is concerned with the way the Romans employed wit, satire and irony for comment, criticism and deconstruction, as well as a powerful weapon in their rhetorical battles. We will consider a range of materials from the poems of Catullus, to the fables of Phaedrus, to non-elite art. Ultimately, we will address whether the humour that seems to turn everything on its head seeks to subvert or reinforce prevailing power structures.