Research Seminar: Disobedient laughter

This talk explores the criminal tradition in American women’s comedy cinema.

The raucous spirit of anti-authoritarianism characterizes most film comedy and aligns us with its comic misfits and outsiders. But in American women’s comedy films, this dynamic is tied to a more radical protest of exclusion from the law and more overt alignments with crime. 

This talk stakes out four key moments in this history – the 1930s comedy of Mae West and the films 9 to 5 (1980), Thelma & Louise (1991) and Tangerine (2015) – tracing the dynamic of disobedient laughter that provokes audiences into subversive positions against the law.  

Linda Mizejewski is a Distinguished Professor of Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies at Ohio State University.