International Society for Humor Studies

Teaching Exchange

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Arts and

Analytical Writing and Reading: Exploring Humor In Literature (Ingrid Daemmrich, Spring 2006)

Course Description: Why do we laugh? What do we laugh about? In round tables, in groups, and as a class, we will analyze and evaluate collaboratively a wide range of literary texts from Antiquity to the present, representing many different nationalities and cultures, and including the traditional literary genres of prose, poetry, and drama, as well as the specialized forms of humorous literature. Members will hold a symposium on four contemporary plays examining humorously the “American dream” and write, perform, and post on our Web CT a “what if” scene for their group's play.

Materials:   Syllabus

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Comedy, Tragedy, and Religion (John Morreall, 2004)

Course Description: Comedy and tragedy began as kinds of drama but are now much more than that. We see events in our lives as comic or tragic; indeed we can view a person's whole life, and even human life itself, as a comedy or a tragedy. Like philosophies and religions, tragedy and comedy involve beliefs and values; they embody visions of what it is to be a human being and to live a worthwhile life. In this course we explore the visions of life in comedy and tragedy and relate both to the world's major religions.

Materials:   Syllabus

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Humor and Linguistics (Don Nilsen, 2006)

Description: Don Nilsen does not provide materials for just one course, but rather a selection of powerpoint slide presentations for over thirty areas of humor research that can be used in a humor studies course. The ISHS website provides a selection of these powerpoint presentations. The complete set can be found at

Selected Powerpoint:   Humor Theories    Parody    Political Humor    Ethnic Humor     Gallows Humor

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Behavioral and
Social Sciences


Special Topics in the Psychology of Humour (Rod Martin, 1998)

Course Description: The purpose of this course is to examine ways in which theoretical and empirical methods drawn from each of these areas of psychology have been applied to the various phenomena of humour. During the first few weeks of the course, lectures will be presented by the instructor covering basic theoretical and methodological issues, approaches to studying individual differences in sense of humour, and research on humour as a moderator of life stress. The remainder of the course will involve student seminar presentations of research on various aspects of humour selected from a list of suggested topics.

Materials:   Syllabus (website)

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Introductory Psychology Seminar: Psychology of Humor (Martin Lampert, 2015)

Course Description: Holy Names University’s Introductory Psychology Seminar serves as the second half of the major’s first year experience program and is intended as a compliment to the first year student’s introductory psychology survey course. In the seminar, all students reconsider the subdisciplines of psychology through the lense of a single area of psychological research; learn how to review and evaluate psychological findings effectively for papers, presentations, and research projects; and reflect on how they can use psychological research to better understand themselves and other people. The syllabus provided here is for the version of this course centered around the psychology of humor.

Materials:   Syllabus

Business and


The Effective Use of Humor in Business (Jim Lyttle, 2005)

Course Description: This course examines the important human phenomenon of humour. Its benefits include building rapport, getting attention, relieving stress and gaining perspective. However, its pitfalls include offending someone, losing credibility and serving as a distraction. Managing its use responsibly requires some understanding of humour theory but, mostly, a conceptualization of its interpersonal dynamics. Specific methodologies are developed to help managers analyze humorous interactions so they can harvest its benefits while avoiding its pitfalls. The course ends with a humour creation project.

Materials:   Syllabus             Reading List              Bibliography

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Health and


Humor and Health (Kay Caskey and Laurie Young, 2006)

Course Description: This course focuses on the physical, intellectual, emotional and spiritual dimensions of laughter, humor and play. We explore recent discoveries and research regarding their role in human physical and mental health. Students learn about the social significance of humor and play, what makes people laugh and why, the role of happiness, and will learn ways to increase happiness and playfulness, use laughter and humor as a stress management technique, and build a basis for appropriate use of humor in helping others.

Materials:   Syllabus

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Humor: An Interdisciplinary Approach (Martin Lampert, 1998)

Description: In this course, we explore how philosophers and social scientists have tried to explain the creation and appreciation of humor and apply these explanations to our understanding of the humor of (1) men, (2) women, (3) children, (4) people cross-culturally, (5) workers in health care, education, and business, and (5) professional writers and performers. In addition to studying the nature of humor, students also have opportunities to explore and develop their own humorous style through experiential sharing, creative writing, artistic expression, and performance.  [Note: This class was a interdisciplinary telecommunications course, prepared largely for hospital nurses.]

Materials:   Syllabus        Reading/Activity Guide

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2015 ISHS Conference Materials for Sharing Recent Syllabi
and Slides

Syllabi and Power Points

What's So Funny about New York (Cornelia Cody)

Laughter and Religion (Bernard Schweitzer--Syllabus)

Interdisciplinary Humor (Don and Alleen Nilsen--Syllabus)

Interdisciplinary Humor (Don and Alleen Nilsen--PowerPoint)

Interdisciplinary Humor (Don and Alleen Nilsen--Handout)

Public Speaking (Joshua Moss--Syllabus)

Public Speaking PowerPoint (Moss--PowerPoint)

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