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Laughing Bodies: An Exploration of Laughter as a Means of Insight

Graham, Nicole (2021) Laughing Bodies: An Exploration of Laughter as a Means of Insight. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis, University of Kent,. (doi:10.22024/UniKent/01.02.87958) (Access to this publication is currently restricted. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided) (KAR id:87958)

Language: English

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Located within the emerging scholarship on religion and humour, as critically examined in chapter one, this thesis demonstrates the importance of the non-serious in the study of religion. Through an exploration of laughter as a means of insight, I argue that there is a specific form of laughter, articulated within this thesis as insight laughter, that has not previously been identified, thoroughly considered, or had its value recognised. This reconceptualisation of laughter is significant as it challenges the classificatory orders of knowledge by recognising and arguing for the value of the body in the creation of knowledge and understanding. Grounded in the psychological and philosophical theory of William James, chapter two argues that insight laughter is a form of embodied knowledge and that the same dynamic shift of streams of consciousness, from the peripheral to the central consciousness, are found in this specific form of laughter. The insight that results from laughter offers an alternative perspective and, as such, presents the potential for change. In order to demonstrate the centrality of the body for insight laughter, and thus the creation of knowledge, this thesis engages with laughter within three thematic areas: religious experience, gendered experiences (of laughter), and ethics. These three areas offer a graduated analysis of the ethical understanding of gender and the body. Chapter three provides a critical engagement with the philosophy and practices of Osho and the Rajneesh Movement to address the presence of the non-serious in religion and explore whether laughter can be considered a religious experience. In order to reflect on how the politics of the body affects the reception of laughter within religious experience and beyond, chapter four considers the gendered experience of laughter through the examples of anasyrma, laughing witches, and feminist laughter, identifying the potential of insight laughter as a means of disrupting patriarchal structures. Finally, chapter five offers a consideration of how the ethics of the body, broadly conceived, has led to the value of laughter being negated. I will counter this position by demonstrating the value of laughter in ethics. As such, this thesis demonstrates how each of these themes challenges how the body, consciousness, and knowledge is understood and demonstrates how the laughing body can provide a rethinking of the creation of knowledge.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy (PhD))
Thesis advisor: Carrette, Jeremy
Thesis advisor: Deacy, Chris
DOI/Identification number: 10.22024/UniKent/01.02.87958
Uncontrolled keywords: Laughter, Insight, Humour and Religion, Religious Studies
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Arts and Humanities > School of European Culture and Languages
SWORD Depositor: System Moodle
Depositing User: System Moodle
Date Deposited: 07 May 2021 09:10 UTC
Last Modified: 20 May 2021 07:12 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
Graham, Nicole:
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