Comedy is often held to be incompatible with trauma and suffering; it triggers anxiety and moral disquiet around the pleasure we take in reading or watching another’s pain. Such concern is particularly acute in relation to suffering that has assumed the status of a cultural trauma, such as that caused by the Holocaust and the Second World War. Yet comedy may challenge the expectations and ethics of representing suffering and trauma.
Professor Bird considers how comical elements in postwar representations of suffering and perpetration invite us to examine the conceptions of trauma and victimhood which currently enjoy so much status, not least the widespread moral privileging of victim identity.
Lecturer: Professor Stephanie Bird, UCL German and Director of UCL School of European Languages, Culture and Society (SELCS)
Inaugural lectures are an opportunity for recently-promoted professors to exhibit to the wider UCL community, and the public outside UCL, a flavour of their intellectual activity and research. Each lecture is followed by a drinks reception, to which all attendees are warmly invited.