FS20190 Screen Comedy

Academic Year 2021/2022

This module traces screen comedy from the earliest examples found in silent cinema through to its contemporary manifestations in the humorous memes and viral videos that proliferate throughout the Internet. Recent events such as the attacks on satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris and the ongoing reassessment of comedy tropes and practices in the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests), remind us how comedy has the capacity to both crystallise and foreground underlying cultural assumptions, as well as directly provoke with regard to issues such as race, religion, gender and violence. The module examines key moments in comedy history such as screwball comedy in the 1930s and the British television “cringe” comedies of the 2000s, as well as the increasingly abrasive depictions of politics in satirical comedies in recent years. Students will be provided with the theoretical tools to untangle and contextualize the complex elements at play in contemporary and historical examples, and will learn to critically examine such comedic texts.

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Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

Successful completion of this module will enable students to:

• Identify current and historical trends in screen comedy
• Appreciate how the proliferation of screen technologies has impacted upon comedic content and viewing practices
• Critically analyse the construction of gender and race in a variety of television texts
• Apply a theoretical approach to comedy to a screen comedy text
• Identify a variety of comedic genres and situate them in their historical and performative context
• Write an essay on an aspect of screen programming that develops an argument encompassing elements such as the institutional, societal and cultural features that shape the text.

Indicative Module Content:

This module will cover themes and genres such as the following:

Comedy Theory
Anarchic Early Comedy
Inventing the Romcom
Introducing the Sitcom
The Nervous Comedy and its Contemporary Successors
Cringe Comedy
Black Comedians and US Screen Comedy
Irishness and the Sitcom Form
Unruly Women on Screen
Comedy and Offence

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours
Specified Learning Activities


Autonomous Student Learning




Small Group




Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
Teaching methods include lectures and small group discussions and analysis. Classes will be a combination of lecture, seminar, and written and oral theoretical and analytical exercises. Students will be expected to attend all classes and screenings, read from a wide selection of sources, comment upon the readings and participate in class discussion (if possible). 
Requirements, Exclusions and Recommendations

Not applicable to this module.

Module Requisites and Incompatibles
Not applicable to this module.
Assessment Strategy  
Description Timing Open Book Exam Component Scale Must Pass Component % of Final Grade
Portfolio: Reflection Exercise: Critical reflection on learning during the module. Week 12 n/a Pass/Fail Grade Scale No


Essay: Final Essay Week 12 n/a Graded No


Essay: mid term essay Week 7 n/a Graded No


Carry forward of passed components
Resit In Terminal Exam
Autumn No
Please see Student Jargon Buster for more information about remediation types and timing. 
Feedback Strategy/Strategies

• Feedback individually to students, post-assessment
• Group/class feedback, post-assessment

How will my Feedback be Delivered?

Global feedback to the entire class will be delivered in a lecture after assessed components. Students will also have an opportunity to meet with lecturer during scheduled personal feedback sessions during the term, as well as by personal appointment during weekly consultation hours.

Name Role
Harriet Idle Tutor
Ms Chloe Power Tutor