Past events

Invitation to a symposium on the Hilarity of the Awful

***** UPDATE ******

Since we have had so many registrations to The Hilarity of the Awful symposium we have booked a new, larger venue: The Humanities Theatre (Humanistiska teatern), Engelska parken. 

We are happy to announce this since our symposium will be the first event to take place in the new building at Campus Engelska parken!

Click on the map to download a pdf version

Click on this link to find directions to The Humanities Theatre:


Why do we laugh at things that appall us?

In our increasingly fraught world we know that jokes about distressing situations arise and are popular in such situations themselves. We also know that in-group gallows humor can be appropriated and used by others whose intention is to offend, but who deflect criticism by saying they are being ironic or “just kidding”. Can we think about humor like this in ways that see it as something other than, or more than, the generally agreed-upon ways of considering humor: as an expression of superiority, the release of nervoous energy, or the perception of incongruity? Does the hilarity of the awful offer us any special perspective on engagement with other human beings, and the world?

Register your participation by emailing no later than 24 October.

Download the symposium program here.


Speakers at the symposium [Please note that there have been changes to the program]

Glenda Carpio, Professor of English and of African and African American studies, Harvard University.


Delia Chiaro, Professor of English Language and Translation, University of Bologna, will talk about the resurgence of poop jokes in contemporary culture.


Angela Nagle, Cultural critic for The Baffler and the Dublin Review of Books, will talk about irony and the alt-right.


Karl Ekeman, Doctoral student, Literature and Rhetoric, Uppsala University will talk about the webcomic meme “Captain Sweden”.


Deborah Cameron, Rupert Murdock Professor of Language and Communication, Oxford University, will talk about academic awfulness.


Giselinde Kuipers, Professor of Cultural Sociology, University of Amsterdam.


Carl Johan De Geer, Swedish artist, designer, filmmaker and author, will discuss aesthetics beyond good and bad.