Special Session Panel, Modern Language Association, Chicago, December 2007
To what extent does the discipline to which the body and bodily functions are subjected in the civilizing process also effect the phenomenon of laughter? How does the censorship of that indecorous display of affective anarchy that is laughter influence the development of normative standards in aesthetics and ethics, from the 17th-century on? How are academic institutions, the discourses of science and medicine as well as the humanities, complicitous in this process of censorship? Why have modern philosophers, from Hegel and Kant, through Schopenhauer and Nietzsche, to Wittgenstein, Bergson and Bataille, been drawn to laughter and jokes?