Laughing Matters: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Humor and Society

Dates: 3, 10 and 17 February + 3, 10 and 17 March 2023 (13:00-15:00)

Location: University of Groningen (Harmoniegebouw, 1315:0036 [February 3rd] and 1312.0019 [February 17th and March 10th]) / Leiden University (Lipsius 208 [February 10th, March 3rd and 17th])

Lecturers: Alberto Godioli (University of Groningen) and Yasco Horsman (Leiden University)


Credits: 5 ECTS


THE COURSE IS FULLY BOOKED, please send an e-mail with your with your name, affiliation, status (ReMA, PhD, other) and research school membership to We will put you on our waiting list.

What social functions can humor perform, from literary satire to stand-up comedy? How does a society negotiate the cultural, moral or legal boundaries of humor, i.e. what can and cannot be joked about? How is the production and circulation of humor changing, in the age of social media and viral memes? Questions like these can only be effectively tackled from an interdisciplinary perspective – i.e., by combining literary, cultural, sociological and linguistic approaches to the multifaceted nature of humor as a social phenomenon.

This seminar builds on recent cross-disciplinary developments in humor research, with a special emphasis on the contextual dimensions of humorous communication (Tsakona 2020) and the complex roles played by humor in the public sphere (Nieuwenhuis and Zijp 2022; Kuipers 2015). Please find an overview of the sessions below:


  • Groningen, 3 February 2023
    Introduction to humor studies
    Guest speaker: Prof. Giselinde Kuipers (KU Leuven)
  • Leiden, 10 February 2023
    Caricature, Calumny and Cartoons
    Speakers: Dr. Yasco Horsman (Leiden University) and Tjeerd Royaards (Cartoon Movement)
  • Groningen, 17 February 2023
    Interpreting Humor: From Social Media to Courts of Law
    Speakers: Dr. Nicholas Holm (Massey University) and Dr. Alberto Godioli (University of Groningen)
  • Leiden, 3 March 2023
    The politics of stand-up comedy and cabaret
    Guest speakers: Marie Koet (University of Groningen) and Dick Zijp (Utrecht University)
  • Groningen, 10 March 2023
    The Comedic Looking-Glass: Rethinking Representations in Stand-up and News Satire
    Guest speakers: Jonas Nicolaï (Antwerp University) and Lucy Spoliar (Radboud University)
  • Leiden, 17 March 2023
    Humor and political resistance
    Guest speaker: Chrisoula Lionis (University of Manchester)



Students can obtain 5 ECTS by attending the sessions, submitting a series of short weekly assignments, and handing in a final paper by 14 April 2023, end of day. For more information, please contact


Yasco Horsman is University Lecturer in Film and Literary Studies at Leiden University and Chair of the MA In Media Studies. He published Threatres of Justice: Judging, Staging and Working Through in Arendt, Brecht and Delbo (Stanford 2010) and essays on Law, Literature, Psychoanalysis and the Graphic Novel in The Oxford Art JournalLaw and LiteratureTijdschrift voor PsychoanalyseLaw and HumanitiesPatterns of Prejudice and The Senses and Society.

Alberto Godioli is Associate Professor in European Culture and Literature at the University of Groningen, and program director of the Netherlands Research School for Literary Studies (OSL). His publications include the monograph Laughter from Realism to Modernism (Routledge, 2015) as well as a number of articles and book chapters on humor and satire from an interdisciplinary perspective. He is the principal investigator of the NWO Vidi project ‘Humour in Court‘ (2022-2027), as well as the founder and co-director of ForHum: Forum for Humor and the Law. He recently co-edited a special issue for HUMOR: International Journal of Humor Research, titled ‘Humor and the Law: The Difficulty of Judging Jests‘ (35.3, 2022).


  • Kuipers, Giselinde. 2015. Good Humor, Bad Taste: A Sociology of the Joke. Berlin: De Gruyter.
  • Nieuwenhuis, Ivo and Zijp, Dick (eds). 2022. Special Issue: The Politics and Aesthetics of Humour. European Journal of Cultural Studies 25(2).
  • Tsakona, Villy. 2020. Recontextualizing Humor. Berlin: De Gruyter.
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  1. […] OSL/NICA Seminar ‘Laughing Matters: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Humor and Society’ | Groningen / Leiden; 3, 10 and 7 February and 3, 10 and 17 March 2023. Organizers: Dr Alberto Godioli (University of Groningen) and Dr Yasco Horsman (Leiden University). 5ECs. […]

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