Slapstick Comedy  book cover
1st Edition

Slapstick Comedy

Edited By

Tom Paulus


Rob King

ISBN 9780415801799
Published April 19, 2010 by Routledge
288 Pages

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Book Description

From Chaplin’s tramp to the Bathing Beauties, from madcap chases to skyscraper perils, slapstick comedy supplied many of the most enduring icons of American cinema in the silent era. This collection of fourteen essays by prominent film scholars challenges longstanding critical dogma and offers new conceptual frameworks for thinking about silent comedy’s place in film history and American culture. The contributors discuss a broad range of topics including the contested theatrical or cinematic origins of slapstick; the comic spectacle of crazy technology and trick stunts; the filmmakers who shaped the style of early slapstick; and comedy’s implications for theories of film form and spectatorship.

This volume is essential reading for anyone seeking to understand the origins and continued importance of a film genre at the heart of American cinema from its earliest days to today.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Restoring Slapstick to the Historiography of American Film Tom Paulus and Rob King

Part One: Originality and Adaptation

1. The Good Thieves: On the Origins of Situation Comedy in the British Music Hall Bryony Dixon

2. D. W. Griffith Shapes Slapstick Barry Salt

3. Genre Parody and Comedic Burlesque: Keystone’s Meta-Cinematic Satires Simon Joyce

4. Both Sides of the Camera: Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle’s Evolution at Keystone Joanna E. Rapf

5. Mud Pies and Tears: Little Mary’s Funny Side Anke Brouwers

Part Two: Mechanics and Modernity

6. Mack Sennett vs. Henry Ford Eileen Bowser

7. "Uproarious Inventions": The Keystone Film Company, Modernity, and the Art of the Motor Rob King

8. Mechanisms of Laughter: The Devices of Slapstick Tom Gunning

9. Slapstick Skyscrapers: An Architecture of Attractions Steven Jacobs

10. California Slapstick Revisited Charles Wolfe

Part Three: Bodies and Performance

11. Dancing on Fire and Water: Charlot and L’Esprit Nouveau Amy Sargeant

12. Splashes of Fun and Beauty: Mack Sennett’s Bathing Beauties Hilde D’Haeyere

13. Back to the "Slap": Slapstick’s Hyperbolic Gesture and the Rhetoric of Violence Muriel Andrin

14. The Art of Imitation: The Originality of Charlie Chaplin and Other Moving-Image Myths Jennifer M. Bean


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Series Editor(s)


TOM PAULUS is Assistant Professor in Cinema and Theater Studies at the University of Antwerp and the organizer of "(Another) Slapstick Symposium."

ROB KING is Assistant Professor in Cinema Studies and History at the University of Toronto and the author of The Fun Factory: The Keystone Film Company and the Emergence of Mass Culture (2009).