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Humour and Sexual Violence - British Association for American Studies


Humour and Sexual Violence


Workshop Call for Papers: Humour and Sexual Violence

15 March 2023 hosted by Birkbeck SHaME project

The juxtaposition of humour and sexual violence as objects of study seems jarring; however, as scholars such as Nicola Gavey (2005) have argued, normative discourses of (hetero)sexuality and gender provide a “cultural scaffolding” for rape and sexual violence. As a prominent mechanism through which these normative discourses are manifested and reinforced, humour provides an important lens through which to understand the cultural politics and social ideologies underpinning our collective understandings of sexual violence (Serisier, 2021). The idea of “rape culture” and the examination of structural underpinnings of sexual violence that have become increasingly prominent in the wake of the #MeToo movement provide an opportunity for scholars to use historical and interdisciplinary perspectives to consider the place of laughter in debates about sexual harm. This online workshop aims to examine the multiple intersections between humour and sexual violence and how they have changed over time from its use in replicating oppressive cultural norms which buttress sexual violence to its ability to subvert hierarchies of power by opening difficult conversations and its liberatory and healing potential.

We invite papers focused on any historical period or location, and we especially welcome papers focusing on contexts beyond the geopolitical North. Possible topics include, but are not limited to:

  • Humour, rape culture, and rape myths.
  • Humour in anti-violence activism.
  • Humour, sexual violence, and identities.
  • Humour, emotions, and sexual violence.
  • The uses of humour in institutional (e.g. legal and medical) contexts.
  •  Humour in sexual violence memoir and personal testimonies.

Please submit abstracts to all three workshop organisers by 31 January 2023:

Dr Mara Keire (

Dr Rhian Elinor Keyse (

Dr George Severs (

All submissions should include the names and affiliations of presenters, an outline of the paper (not exceeding 300 words), and a short bio of 1-2 paragraphs. We hope that the workshop will form the basis of a special issue for the journal of Cultural History. Participation in the special issue will be optional for accepted participants, and we will ask for expressions of interest shortly after the workshop.