BSA Synergy Conference: How to Do Things With Jokes

October 25, 2019 - October 27, 2019
Aesthetics Research Centre , University of Kent

University of Kent
Canterbury CT2 7NF
United Kingdom

This will be an accessible event, including organized related activities


  • British Society of Aesthetics


Syracuse University
CUNY Graduate Center
University College London
Royal Holloway University of London
University of Southampton


University of Kent
University of Kent
University of Kent
University of Kent

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The theme of the conference is philosophy and comedy. We have broad horizons; presentations are encouraged from professional philosophers and from comedy practitioners alike. We detail some of our questions below, but what we care about more than anything else is bringing philosophical reflection into contact with artistic practice to see what insights each can offer the other.

Here are some questions for starters:

  • How do we strengthen and subvert various stereotypes with humour and jokes? How do we create ‘in’ and ‘out’ groups?  How can we divide with jokes and how can we use them to bridge divides?
  • How are audiences created? What is an audience?
  • How do we satirise, and how is this different from other forms of humour?
  • What role exactly do jokes and humour have in a meaningful life? How necessary are jokes to play? How central is humour to creativity?
  • How exactly do humour and jokes help us cope with serious matters – grief, loneliness, despair?  What is the attraction of gallows humour? How important are venting and swearing?
  • Humour and jokes can be short-lived and long-lived. How exactly does humour help to lubricate social situations, and how much does context in the moment matter?
  • What sort of persona are created with humour, and how do jokes and humour help?

The following keynote speakers are confirmed:

  • Luvell Anderson, Syracuse
  • Julian Baggini, independent writer, Honorary Research Fellow, Kent
  • Noel Carroll, CUNY
  • Robin Ince, comedy writer and performer
  • Lucy O’Brien, UCL
  • Rebecca Roache, Royal Holloway
  • Rosie Wilby, comedy writer and performer
  • Andy White, comedy writer and performer
  • Fiona Woollard, Southampton

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August 31, 2019, 8:00pm BST

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