Theology & Philosophy

Classic Works of Humor as Expressions and Explorations of Liberty


This colloquium examined the manner in which classic works of humor have served as expressions of liberty by exemplifying a citizen's right to speak and write freely and irreverently concerning their society's leaders and practices, and as a tool for identifying limits to freedom and thereby to possible social reform.


Conference Readings

Dr. Strangelove, Or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. Directed by Stanley Kubrick. Sony Pictures Home Entertainment: Culver City, 2001 [1964]. DVD.

Aristophanes. The Eleven Comedies. New York: Liveright Publishing Corporation, 1943.

Boccaccio, Giovanni. The Decameron. Translated by G. H. McWilliam. Hammondsworth, England: Penguin Books, 1972.

Brown, John. An Estimate of the Manners and Principles of the Times and Other Writings. Edited by David Womersley. Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2019.

Buckley, F. H. The Morality of Laughter. Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press, 2003.

Chaucer, Geoffrey. The Canterbury Tales of Geoffrey Chaucher. Translated by R. M. Lumiansky. New York: Washington Square Press, Inc., 1960.

Cooper, Anthony Ashley, Third Earl of Shaftesbury. Characteristicks of Men, Manners, Opinions, Times, Volume I. Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2001.

Heller, Joseph. Catch-22. New York: Simon and Schuster, 2011.

Horace. Satires, Epistles and Ars Poetica. Translated by H. Rushton Fairclough. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1999 [1929].

Persius. The Satires of Persius. Translated by W. S. Merwin. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1961.

Swift, Jonathan. Gulliver’s Travels. London: Penguin Books, 2001.

Twain, Mark. "The War Prayer." (January 19, 2010).

Twain, Mark. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Ann Arbor: State Street Press, 1996.