The Outsider, Art and Humour  book cover
1st Edition

The Outsider, Art and Humour

ISBN 9780367468224
Published May 20, 2020 by Routledge
226 Pages 25 B/W Illustrations

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USD $160.00

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Book Description

This cross-disciplinary book, situated on the periphery of culture, employs humour to better comprehend the arts, the outsider and exclusion, illuminating the ever-changing social landscape, the vagaries of taste and limits of political correctness.

Each chapter deals with specific themes and approaches – from the construct of outsider and complexity of humour, to Outsider Art and spaces – using various theoretical and analytical methods. Paul Clements draws on humour, especially from visual arts and culture (and to a lesser extent literature, film, music and performance), as a tool of ridicule, amongst other discourses, employed by the powerful but also as a weapon to satirize them. These ambiguous representations vary depending on context, often assimilated then reinterpreted in a game of authenticity that is poignant in a world of facsimile and 'fake news'. The humour styles of a range of artists are highlighted to reveal the fluidity and diversity of meaning which challenges expectations and at its best offers resistance and, crucially, a voice for the marginal.

This book will be of particular interest to scholars in art history, cultural studies, fine art, humour studies and visual culture.

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Approaches to humour and laughter
  3. The construct of outsider: media labelling, 'othering' and excluded minds
  4. The construct of outsider: identity, the body and representation
  5. Humorous representations of the outsider: hybridity, utility and carnivalesque
  6. Representations of humour by marginal artists
  7. Creative outsider spaces and dark heterotopias
  8. Transgression, spectacle and political correctness
  9. Afterthoughts

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Paul Clements is Lecturer at Goldsmiths College, University of London. He is the author of The Creative Underground: Art, Politics and Everyday Life (Routledge, 2017) and Charles Bukowski, Outsider Literature, and the Beat Movement (Routledge, 2013).


"Clements shows us why humor and joking in art, and in particular 'outsider art,' should matter to us. His book is funny, and he explains the jokes, yet it is serious because humor can heal or abuse and we ought to care whether it makes people’s lives better or worse. ... Clements’ book is a great primer for scholars, jokers, and artists who seek justice in a crazy world."

--Rhizomes: Cultural Studies in Emerging Knowledge