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MPSI Meets: Hysterical Laughter

  • May 21, 2021
  • 5:15 PM - 6:30 PM
  • Zoom - Registration not required.

MPSI Meets:
Hysterical Laughter

Friday, May 21, 5:15-6:30 PM

No cost to attend
Zoom Link to join
Have you ever laughed so "hysterically" that you just couldn't stop? And what does it mean to describe laughter itself as "hysterical"? It was not until the end of the nineteenth century that this now familiar turn of phrase became strongly associated with pleasure or enjoyment. Prior to that time, hysterical laughter was the last thing you'd ever want to experience with your body. It especially afflicted vulnerable women suffering from unresolvable mixed feelings. 

In this talk, I will detail laughter's hysterical turn: from isolated misery to the love of uproarious company. With reference to hysterical laughter, I will reveal how psychoanalysis emerged from this very ambiguity between forbidden pleasures and traumatic symptoms. Finally, we'll zoom out and think about the resurgence of gaslighting hysteria and endemic enjoyment in twenty-first century media culture. 
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PRESENTER
Maggie Hennefeld is Associate Professor of Cultural Studies and Comparative Literature and McKnight Presidential Fellow at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. She is author of Specters of Slapstick and Silent Film Comediennes (Columbia University Press, 2018), and co-editor of Cultural Critique and of two volumes, Unwatchable (Rutgers University Press, 2019) and Abjection Incorporated: Mediating the Politics of Pleasure and Violence (Duke University Press, 2020).

DISCUSSANT
Corbin Quinn, MSW, PhD, LGSW, is currently a MPSI Clinical Fellow in the Psychotherapy Center and therapist at Emerge, a psychodynamic group practice in Minneapolis. Prior to switching to a career in adult mental health, Corbin taught languages, literature, and film for fifteen years at both the high school and college level.
Maggie Hennenfeld


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