shopping cart
nothing in cart
browse by subject
new releases
best sellers
sale books
browse by author
browse by publisher
about us
upcoming events
Oct 16th - Management Certificate: Leadership training specifically designed for health and human service professionals [SickKids CCMH Learning Institute]
Oct 16th - 8 Week Mindful Self-Compassion Program [The Centre for MindBody Health]
Oct 16th - The Leadership Edge: Empower and engage employees for maximum performance [SickKids CCMH Learning Institute]
Oct 17th - MBCT Basics in Toronto [The Centre for Mindfulness Studies]
Oct 17th - 21st annual Energy Psychology Conference - Integrating Ancient Wisdom with Modern Science [Energy Psychology Conference Canada]
schools agencies and other institutional orders (click here)
In the Event of Laughter: Psychoanalysis, Literature and Comedy | Psychoanalytic Horizons series
Bown, Alfie
Bloomsbury Academic / Hardcover / 2018-11-01 / 1501342622
Psychoanalysis & Literature
price: $154.00 (may be subject to change)
160 pages
Not in stock - ships in one week.

Using Lacanian psychoanalysis, as well as its pre-history and afterlives, In the Event of Laughter argues for a new framework for discussing laughter. Responding to a tradition of 'comedy studies' that has been interested only in the causes of laughter (in why we laugh), it proposes a different relationship between laughter and causality. Ultimately it argues that laughter is both cause and effect, troubling chronological time and asking for a more nuanced way of conceiving the relationship between subjects and their laughter than existing theories have accounted for.

Making this visible via psychoanalytic ideas of retroactivity, Alfie Bown explores how laughter far from being a mere response to a stimulus changes the relationship between the present, the past and the future. Bown then investigates this hypothesis in relation to a range of comic texts from the 'history of laughter,' discussing Chaucer, Shakespeare, Kafka and Chaplin, as well as lesser-known but vital figures from the comic genre.

Table of contents:

List of Figures
Preface and Acknowledgments
Note on the Text
Introduction: Laughter's Doubleness
1. Laughter as Liberation
2. Laughter and Control
3. Laughter as Event
4. Laughter and Anxiety


I read In the Event of Laughter with real pleasure. It is smart and confident, but also ruminative and genuinely philosophical, and balances a distinct central thesis with many diverse case studies. The notion that there is something penny-pinching and parsimonious about existing accounts of 'the event' ('a rare and unusual occurrence, something that occasionally interrupts the trajectory of things'), and that rather, wouldn't we be better off thinking about how it happens all the time?, is a very sympathetic one; and it's an inspired twist to locate it in the act of laughter. The book will certainly have readers in the growing area of comedy and laughter studies, as it is a combative (though courteous) shakeup of that field. James Smith, Lecturer in English Literature, Royal Holloway, University of London, UK, and author of Samuel Richardson and the Theory of Tragedy: Clarissa's Caesuras (2016)

About the Author:

Alfie Bown is Assistant Professor of Literature at HSMC Hong Kong and is co-editor of the Hong Kong Review of Books. He is author of Enjoying It: Candy Crush and Capitalism (2015) and The Playstation Dreamworld (2017).

Caversham Booksellers
98 Harbord St, Toronto, ON M5S 1G6 Canada
(click for map and directions)
All prices in $cdn
Copyright 2019

Phone toll-free (800) 361-6120
Tel (416) 944-0962 | Fax (416) 944-0963
Hours: 9-6 M-W / 9-7 Th-F / 10-6 Sat / 12-5 Sun EST

Click here to read previous issues.
other lists
Psychoanalysis & Literature
Psychoanalytic Horizons