Books Features

New Medieval Books: Medieval Humour

Medieval Humour: Expressions, Receptions and Functions

Edited by Kleio Pethainou

What did people in the Middle Ages find funny? This book has six essays that examine what would be humourous in medieval Western culture, whether it be in manuscripts, writings, or even in the monastery.


The idea of this book sprung from a desire to investigate how different researchers approached humour in the Middle Ages, and was developed in a series of panels at the International Medieval Congress 2020 in Leeds, and the International Congress on Medieval Studies 2021 in Kalamazoo. The problematic nature of the topic was immediately obvious: although humour has been researched and discussed since antiquity, we are still to come up with an acceptable definition for it. For the purposes of this book, humour has been defined as this stimulation, verbal or visual, that intends to provoke laughter. Following a long line of historical research on humour, this collection aims to contribute to our better understanding of medieval societies and audiences.


Who is this book for?

Figuring out what medieval people laughed at is a tricky thing, as it is different from what we find funny. Books like this are very helpful in understanding this part of medieval culture. Each of the essays will be of interest to different scholars, including those who research the Book of Kells, Bernard of Clairvaux or the Cent Nouvelles Nouvelles.

We also did a piece about one of the articles in this book: The Humour of Medieval Scribes


The editor

Kleio Pethainou is an Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. She researches storytelling and humour in the Middle Ages. You can visit her website, podcast or follow Kleio on X/Twitter @KPethainou

You can learn more about this book from the publisher’s website

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