CFP: Morbid Laughter: Exploring the Comic Dimensions of Disease in Classical Antiquity

University of Patras, Greece, September 12-13, 2016

The aim of this conference is to explore the comic dimensions of disease/disability/deformity in Greek and Roman culture and to discuss instances in which someone’s illness, be it physical or mental, turns into comic material. While the tragic associations of disease have been thoroughly explored in secondary literature, its comic potential – even in cases when a fatal outcome is looming – has not been studied systematically. We aim to address this question by drawing attention to the ways in which disease is exploited precisely for comic purposes, in both fictional and non-literary settings, becoming on occasions an essential part of dark comedy in antiquity. Topics include but are not restricted to:

  • Bodily malfunctions and mental disturbances as objects of laughter in Greek and Roman comedy / comic elements in tragic representations of disease
  • Bodily disfigurement and the grotesque in ancient literature and art
  • Comic elements in the Hippocratic Corpus: the ‘lower bodily stratum’ (Bakhtin) across medicine and comedy
  • Jokes about ugliness and deformity in classical rhetoric; deformity and laughter in Cicero and Quintilian
  • Illness as metaphor/images of illness in Roman satire (especially Horace, Persius and Petronius)
  • Comic treatments of doctors in antiquity; doctors and disease in New Comedy and the Hellenistic epigram
  • Comic elements in the corpus of healing inscriptions
  • Mocking the patients / illness as farce in Aelius Aristides and Lucian
  • Laughing at the insane: social attitudes towards madness in everyday life
  • Disabled men – disabled women: laughing at female – male impairments

We welcome abstracts for papers of 25-30 minutes from academics at any stage of their career and encourage postgraduate students and early career researchers to apply. Please submit abstracts of no more than 350 words to George Kazantzidis (gkazantzidis@upatras.gr) and Natalia Tsoumpra (natalia.tsoumpra@glasgow.ac.uk) by Wednesday 15th of June 2016.
 

For the full description of the conference, please visit: http://www.philology-upatras.gr/files/content/MORBID%20LAUGHTER.pdf

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