Kate Davison

Tuesday, June 2 2020 at 7:30PM

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48-52 Canal St

Kate Davison

What's the talk about?


What can historians learn from old jokes? They might not be the most obvious subject of academic inquiry, but in recent years the history of humour has become a vibrant field of research. If you take Aristotle’s word for it, laughter is fundamental to human experience - people have always laughed; yet, the things we think it acceptable to laugh at, and how that laughter is thought about, tolerated or suppressed, have varied considerably with time, place and culture. This has compelling possibilities for historians. The talk will use the example of eighteenth-century Britain - a period brimming with bawdy jest books and a surfeit of satirical texts and images - to consider what the laughter of the past can tell us about the sensibilities, values and interests of those who lived through it.

Kate Davison has been a lecturer in the History Department at the University of Sheffield since 2017; before that she taught at the University of Oxford, and carried out her own research and study at the universities of Cambridge, Exeter and Sheffield. Her work focuses in particular on Britain c.1650-1800 and this talk will draw on material from the book she is currently working on.