Looking at Laughter

Looking at Laughter : Humor, Power, and Transgression in Roman Visual Culture, 100 B.C.-A.D. 250

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In this engaging study, a follow up to his earlier Looking at Lovemaking John R. Clarke asks what the Romans found funny, and why. As the title would suggest, he focuses on the evidence to be found in Roman art and material culture, including graffitti, although literary sources of course provide a framework for the study. He draws heavily on the theories of Mikhail Bakhtin, finding that much of Roman humour relies on the overturning of the existing social order, and breaking of taboos, be they social, religious or sexual.

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Product details

  • Hardback | 321 pages
  • 177.8 x 254 x 30.48mm | 1,065.94g
  • University of California Press
  • Berkerley, United States
  • English
  • 24 color illustrations, 97 b/w photographs, 17 line illustrations, 5 tables
  • 0520237331
  • 9780520237339
  • 1,125,398

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Review quote

"Brave and sometimes brilliant... Clarke has a wonderful eye for the byways of Roman art and a passionate determination... Presents an extremely powerful case... A wonderful book." New York Review Of Books 20080717 "No one is doing more to enrich our pictures of Roman visual culture, or to encourage a more imaginative and open-minded approach to it... For this contribution alone, the author and his book are to be greatly recommended." -- Christopher H. Hallett Journal Of Interdisciplinary History 20090301 "Clearly written and carefully explicated, the book is suitable for students and nonspecialists ... art historians and classicists." -- Eve D'ambra The Historian 20100630 "Clarke has accomplished a pioneering study... The book is beautifully executed." Art Bulletin (CAA) 20110601

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About John R. Clarke

John R. Clarke is Annie Laurie Howard Regents Professor of History of Art at the University of Texas, Austin. He is the author of Art in the Lives of Ordinary Romans (UC Press, 2003), Roman Sex (2003), Looking at Lovemaking: Constructions of Sexuality in Roman Art,100 B.C. A.D. 250 (UC Press, 1998), and The Houses of Roman Italy: 100 B.C. A.D. 250: Ritual, Space, and Decoration (UC Press, 1991).

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