Laughter, contemporary theory suggests, is often aggressive in
some manner and may be prompted by a sudden perception of
incongruity combined with memories of past emotional experience.
Given this importance of the past to our recognition of the comic,
it follows that some "traditions" dispose us to ludic responses.
The studies in Of Corpse: Death and Humor in Folklore and
Popular Culture examine specific interactions of text (jokes,
poetry, epitaphs, iconography, film drama) and social context
(wakes, festivals, disasters) that shape and generate laughter.
Uniquely, however, the essays here peruse a remarkable
paradox---the convergence of death and humor.
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