PHIL 180.001 – Philosophy of Humor
Instructor: Ripley Stroud. This course meets MWF 9:05 – 9:55 a.m. in PE 3018.
In August 2017, the Washington Post published an article entitled “Why is millennial humor so weird?” The author characterized ‘millennial humor’ as “loops of self-referential quips warp[ing] and distort[ing] with each iteration, tweaked by another user embellishing on someone else’s joke, until nothing coherent is left”. Although this humor can manifest in face-to-face interactions, it (interestingly!) is mostly found in static form on the internet, through social media and the exchange of memes.
In this course, we will set out to get a better sense of what exactly this kind of humor is and what makes it funny. We will read philosophical theories of humor and will look at examples from the internet to see how/if these articles can explain them. We will consider related issues in the vicinity: the ethics of offensive humor, the role humor plays in politically polarized groups (see: Pepe the Frog), how linguistic expectations are used and subverted in humor, and why image macros are so desperately unfunny.