Dr. Patrick Giamario

Laughter As Politics Book Cover

Laughter as Politics offers a novel account of laughter’s role in contemporary political life. A world awash in hilarity has rendered the traditional philosophical question of whether laughter should play a role in politics obsolete. Faced with the laughter generated by late-night comedians, Twitter trolls, and reality TV presidents, we must instead trace how laughter operates politically. Only an account of gelopolitics – that is, of the concrete practices of and regulations around laughter (gelōs [γέλως]) that shape and reshape a political community – can reveal the possibilities and dangers of the current moment. Through investigations of the accounts of laughter offered by Thomas Hobbes, Theodor Adorno, Ralph Ellison, and feminist and queer thinkers like Hélène Cixous and Judith Butler, this book develops a critical theory of laughter that illuminates laughter as a privileged site wherein the contemporary social order constructs, preserves, and transforms itself politically.