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March 12 , 2009

The Politics of Humour

Laughter, Inclusion and Exclusion in the Twentieth Century


The period between the First World War and the fall of the Berlin Wall is often characterized as the age of extremes—while this era witnessed unprecedented violence and loss of human life, it also saw a surge in humorous entertainment in both democratic and authoritarian societies. The Politics of Humour examines how works such as satirical magazines and comedy films were used both to reaffirm group identity and to exclude those who did not belong.

The essays in this collection analyse the political and social context of comedy in Europe and the United States, exploring topics ranging from the shifting targets of ethnic jokes to the incorporation of humour into wartime broadcasting and the uses of satire as a means of resistance. Comedy continues to define the nature of group membership today, and The Politics of Humour offers an intriguing look at how entertainment helped everyday people make sense of the turmoil of the twentieth century.

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