Inter-University Students’ and Researchers’ Conference 2017
DEPARTMENT OF ENGLISH
Ramakrishna Mission Residential College (Autonomous)
Limits of Laughter in Cultural Discourse and Practice
November 10-11, 2017
This conference seeks to engage with the rationale of laughter in literature and other cultural texts. Laughter in this context does not merely refer to a physiological stimulus but its broadest possible application incorporating terms such as black humour and carnivalesque. The oldest theory of laughter goes back to Aristotle, as stated in De anima: “Of all living creatures only man is endowed with laughter.’’ In the Indian classical text Nāṭyaśāstra, laughter or ‘hasya’ comes second in the aesthetic hierarchy of the eight rasas, only after ‘shringara’. The field of humour studies beginning from Aristotle through Kant, Bergson, Freud and Bakhtin among its contributors on the one hand and numerous cross-disciplinary hypotheses on the other have attempted to explain human laughter offering psychological, physiological and sociological accounts. But the discourse remains cheerfully unstable.