CFP : "Taboo Humo(u)r : language, culture, society, and the media"

Call for papers

Universitat Pompeu Fabra

Taboo Humo(u)r : language, culture, society, and the media

September 20th-21st, 2016

In a world that seems continuously to be pushing the envelope of what is acceptable to the inhabitants of specific linguistic and cultural contexts, this interdisciplinary conference acknowledges the importance of investigating taboos and their reinforcement/breaking in various areas of language, culture and society, and across different cultures. We propose to explore the delicate balance and subtle boundaries between the need for inclusion and respect for different ethnic, religious, sexual, etc. backgrounds – which seems to be at the basis of modern multicultural societies – and a (un)conscious push towards the breaking of existing taboos, for example for shock value, as in the case of comedy and art. In such context, investigation of the linguistic, cultural, social, institutional and personal implications of taboo reinforcement/breaking appears of extreme value.

For its 3rd edition, The Taboo Conference series will specifically address the intricacies of taboo and humour/comedy in the broad contexts of language, culture, society, and the media and in its various occurrences from the points of view of production, performance, and perception/reception. The subject of taboo and humour seems to have become especially relevant in the last few years, in which political correctness at both the institutional and individual level has been seen, on the one hand, as a crucial tool in protecting minorities from verbal abuse and in preventing the reinforcement of stereotypes and, on the other hand, as a set of measures and a way of thinking which significantly stymie free speech in many aspects of the public sphere.

This conference seeks to explore the shifting boundaries of the acceptability of taboo humour and comedy in their various incarnations as produced and perceived in today’s multicultural society, both in real-life and virtual communities and contexts. Possible areas of inquiry include, for example, the interplay and the influence of political orientations on comedy, political satire, identity and gender politics, ethnic humour and stereotypes, comedy tackling different kinds of non-normative behaviour, political correctness and the discourse surrounding it, and the debate between real and perceived offense through comedy.

We welcome individual proposals or pre-organized panels from different disciplines pertaining – but by no means limited – to the following thematic areas and their intersections with humour and comedy :

Sex and sexuality (e.g. nudity, bizarre sex)
Death and dying (e.g. aging, widowhood, funerals and burials, mortal accidents)
Sickness, disability and deformity
Scatology (e.g. toilet humour)
Politics (e.g. political corruption, political incorrectness, prejudice, discrimination, party politics)
Religions and blasphemy (rituals, prejudice, afterlife)
Social institutions and cultural values (e.g. drugs and alcohol, law and order, family, education, food and eating habits, gambling, personal image, work ethics, social hypocrisy)
Money (meanness, greed, theft, exploitation, waste, extravagance, poverty)
Changing social attitudes towards violence, exploitation and abuse (prostitution, slavery, trafficking, rape, children’s rights)
Confirmed keynote speakers include Delia Chiaro (University of Bologna-Forlì) and Giselinde Kuipers (University of Amsterdam).

The working language for the conference is English. Each paper presentation should be scheduled for 15 minutes to be followed by 10-minute question time to the panel.

300-word abstracts and a brief bionote should be sent to by 15th February 2016 with the subject “TaCo2016 – proposal”. If you are interested in submitting a pre-organized panel, please contact us by the same deadline.

Notification of acceptance for both abstracts and panels will be given by 1st March 2016.