Bernard Schweizer was fortunate to turn his life's passions into an academic career. These passions center around traveling, feminism, heterodoxy, and comedy--all ideas defined by a desire to transgress established norms and break with familiar conventions. Schweizer's first book, Radicals on the Road, explored the politically motivated travels of eccentric writers like George Orwell, Graham Greene, and Evelyn Waugh. His next book revived the legacy of British feminist iconoclast Rebecca West. He then went on to write a monograph about the paradoxical phenomenon of "misotheism," i.e. passionate belief in a hateful God. And now, in his most recent book, Christianity and the Triumph of Humor, Schweizer advances a powerful free-speech argument in favor of all kinds of comedy, including irreverent humor. Conceptually, Schweizer argues that religion naturally attracts humor. Historically and culturally, he demonstrates that humor was able to conquer all conceivable Christian taboos while delivering significant artistic and intellectual benefits.
Ph.D in English, Duke University, 1997
Areas of Research / Professional Expertise
• Humor studies: specifically the connection between humor appreciation and religious belief.
• Heresy studies: notably how literature challenges and redefines all kinds of doctrines, including religious norms.
• Gender studies: in particular the models and scripts of female heroism employed in women's epics.
• Travel studies: the way in which travel writers see the world through a political lens and use their writings from abroad to further certain ideologies.
Personal Interests
• Wherever I go, a book is never far from my reach. I enjoy compelling non-fiction, especially travel writing, as well as Western and non-Western fiction, including Japanese and Chinese stories by writers such as Yu Hua and Haruki Murakami. Among my regular magazines are The Baffler, The Chronicle of Higher Education, Free Inquiry, and The Atlantic.
• Music: I love blues, jazz, and rock music, with a sprinkling of urban folk. Van Morrison is my musical god.
• Art & Culture: The first thing I do in every city is to explore the local art museums, galleries, and sculpture gardens. I'm a fan of sculpture in general, and of glass art in particular.
• Traveling: I've been to over 50 countries and hope to expand my horizons further. Mountain hiking is one of my greatest joys.