Beck has taught in a variety of disciplines: American Studies, Women’s and Gender Studies, African-American Studies, and English. While she uses varying pedagogical strategies, there is always an emphasis on her holy trinity of teaching: experience, application, and creation. A firm believer in combining theory with action, she incorporates service-learning work into courses when appropriate and creates assignments that develop research and technological literacies.
London Scribner Seminar - Comics, Jesters, Satirists & Hacks: Locating British Humor
This course will examine the history of comedic cultural production in England through the cultural forms of music halls, vaudeville/variety, comedy performed in working men’s clubs, comedic street performance, televised sketch comedy and stand-up comedy, examining how comedy is influenced and shaped by shifts in social consciousness, changing economy, industrial and technological innovations, political events, and global conflict and relations. We will examine the history of comedy as the history of England—that comedy reflects the institutions and ideologies shaping cultural production; the same institutions and ideologies that prompt us to warfare, that determine who has rights and who does not and that influence our consumptive practices.
Along the way, we will unpack the history, theories, and functions of laughter and humor while also documenting the myriad ways comic performance proliferates across media. We will examine styles of comic performance such as shock comedy, charged humor, self-deprecating humor, satire/political humor and performing marginality from contemporary UK comics such as Eddie Izzard, Eliza Smurthwaite, Humza Arshad, Stewart Lee, Gina Yashere, John Oliver, Bridget Christie, Ed Byrne, and many more. Reading popular discourses as critical texts shaping human behavior, attitudes and consumptive practices, we will compare shifting ideas about political correctness and humor from the mid-twentieth century to the Digital Age. The city of London* will be our playground and roaming classroom as we visit historical cultural sites (some still active) for comic performances like Wilton’s Music Hall, Soho Theatre, London Palladium Theatre, Mildmay Working Men’s Club, popular urban sites for street performances like Covent Garden, as well as important centers for the preservation and study of comedy, e.g., the British Museum of Comedy, and the Centre for Comedy Studies Research.