Faculty Colloquium, Sammy Basu

Dear Colleagues,

Please join us this Friday, March 17th at 3 pm. in Ford 122for our sixth Colloquium of this semester. (Please note change in location)

Sammy Basu
, Professor of Politics

Title: Humoring Democracy:  or Why I Read the Nazis for Laughs

Modernity is hard on us, whence reactions to it abound. However, humor can make it bearable and even pleasurable. In my research I illustrate the argument that modern liberal democracy needs its citizens to have an appropriate sense of humor using the historical record of the Weimar Republic and the Nazi Third Reich culminating with World War II and the Holocaust. I highlight Weimar-era pro-democratic defenders and their cognitive and communicative turns to liberal and leveling humor, and contrast them against Hitler, Goebbels, Rosenberg etc., and their Nazi honor-bound and hierarchic sense of humor. In effect, on this view, the democratic Republic failed because of an irony deficiency and conversely the authoritarian Reich flourished because it contrived to provide German gentiles with the ‘last laugh’. In closing, I will apply this analysis to the contemporary US political situation.

Students are welcome.

We look forward to seeing you there.

Doreen Simonsen and Daniel Rouslin
Colloquium Coordinators