Course Details

200: The Nature of Humor

July 15-18, 2019
9:45 AM - 11:15 AM

Humor is a mystery. Over the centuries, philosophers have been unable to come to grips with it fully. Whenever they think that they have a good grasp of humor, an aspect of it, or the entirety, escapes. There have been many theories (such as exercise of superiority, release of energy or tension, consideration/resolution of incongruity, engagement in play) but exceptions always disprove the proposed rule. We will speculate, look at the positive and negative roles of mirth, consider how to benefit from it, and above all celebrate examples. Study group participants should be prepared to laugh. (Fortunately, we laugh 30 times more frequently in groups than alone).

Class Format: Lecture and Discussion

Hours of Reading: No reading

Study Group Leader(s):

Robert Kolodney
The ongoing and ever-more fulfilling trajectory of Bob Kolodney's professional career includes: teaching assistant to corporate lawyer to serial entrepreneur to angel investor/OLLI Study Group Leader to Nirvana. (Education: Harvard College/Columbia Law School/INSEAD)

Reading List:

A Pretty Good Joke Book, Sixth Edition, Garrison Keillor. HyBridge, 2015, ISBN: 1622318633. Humour, A Very Short Introduction, Noël Carroll. Oxford University Press, 2014, ISBN: 0199552223. The Psychology of Humor, 2nd Edition, Rod Martin and Thomas Ford. Academic Press, 2018, ISBN: 0128121432. Wit’s End, James Geary. Norton, 2019, ISBN: 0393254941.