Anthropologists have been accustomed to identifying ‘joking relationships’ as strategies for handling internal tensions in the domestic domain. And present day domestic sitcoms on the television - Keeping up Appearances and The Royle Family to name but two - also draw their humourous content from such tensions. And yet the role of humour in the home has not featured prominently in academic study of domestic life, even as a form of discourse. This seminar will discuss the persistent role of humour in the negotiation of domestic relationships, from Chaucer’s 'Miller’s Tale', to the eighteenth century novel, nineteenth century cartoons and the Grossmiths’ 'The Diary of Nobody'. How did the nature of humour alter with the changing nature of domestic life, and what themes persisted? Humour in the home; a serious topic.
Dr Antony Buxton (Lecturer in design history, material and domestic culture, Oxford University Department for Continuing Education)