Reading humorously: Towards new perspectives

Shun-liang Chao, Vivienne Westbrook

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference paperChapterpeer-review


This introduction presents an overview of the key concepts discussed in the subsequent chapters of this book. The book demonstrates the usefulness of reading texts through a framework of humour–culturally and historically, from antiquity to modernity–as "a nearly universal [and indispensable] component of human societies". It presents the complexity and richness of humour by treating distinctly some of the most defining texts of Western culture within their immediate historical contexts. The book deals with the profound impact on contemporary American (capitalist) culture that the Victorian-era American writer Samuel Clemens produces by marketing humour. Writers and artists have reacted to or against the Platonic/Aristotelian attack on humour throughout history, and their reactions can be categorised into at least three strands (satirical, sentimental, and liberating) which actually intersect with one another to some degree. Religious and political conflicts continued to play a large role in the subsequent development of humorous strategies.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHumour in the arts
Subtitle of host publicationNew perspectives
EditorsVivienne Westbrook, Shun-liang Chao
Place of PublicationAbington, Oxon
Number of pages19
ISBN (Electronic)9780429455827, 9780429849893
ISBN (Print)9781138314641
Publication statusPublished - 2018

Publication series

NameStudies for the International Society for Cultural History


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