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First work meeting of the scientific network ‘Comedy and Disability’

The first DFG-funded network meeting ‘Comedy and Disability at the Intersection of Cultural, Media, Social and Educational Studies’ took place at the University of Passau from 15 to 17 May 2024. Organised by Prof. Dr Susanne Hartwig's Chair of Romance Literatures and Cultures, the meeting brought together around 20 academics from Germany, Spain, the UK and Latin America to discuss the potential of comedy and humour as a means of inclusion.

Teilnehmende des Netzwerktreffens "Komik und Behinderung"

The combination of comedy and disability opens up new perspectives on how society deals with diversity. The use of humour and laughter can break down barriers and promote inclusion. Prejudices can become visible and a deeper understanding of the reality of life for people with disabilities becomes possible. The workshop shed light on various cultural phenomena, including literature, theatre and film, and provided an opportunity for experts from academia and practice to exchange ideas.

Laughing together is inclusion in action.

The scientific part of the work meeting was complemented by a varied supporting programme, the highlight of which was the round table entitled ‘What's there to laugh about? Comedy and disability in the spotlight’. Comedian Martin Fromme, film director and author Niko von Glasow, theatre director Gerd Hartmann and actor and author Samuel Koch engaged in a lively discussion about the challenges and opportunities that comedy offers on stage and on screen. It works like a door opener that encourages people to engage with the topic of disability. Fromme impressively demonstrated that this also leads to the empowerment of people with disabilities. It is important who represents disability and what attitude they adopt. If it is clear that the aim is not to treat people with disabilities disrespectfully, cruder jokes are also allowed, as Samuel Koch emphasised. Laughing together is inclusion in action.

Photo: Participants of the working meeting (from left to right): Dieter Kulke, Gerd Hartmann, Jakob Kelsch, Soledad Pereyra, Gabriel García Fontalvo, Malena Pastoriza, Christian von Tschilschke, Mirjam Leuzinger, Matei Chihaia, Susanne Hartwig, Wieland Schwanebeck, Daniela Kuschel, Thomas Hoffmann, Karl Kleinbach, Lukas Kleinhenz, Berit Callsen, Anette Pankratz, Adrián Herrera Fuentes. Photo: University of Passau

This text was machine-translated from German.

Portrait von Prof. Dr. Susanne Hartwig, Inhaberin des Lehrstuhls für Romanische Literaturen und Kulturen, auf einem der Flure innerhalb der Universität Passau.

Professor Susanne Hartwig

researches images and concepts of disability in literature, theater, and film

How do fictional and documentary texts influence our images and concepts of disability?

How do fictional and documentary texts influence our images and concepts of disability?

Professor Susanne Hartwig has held the Chair of Romance Literatures and Cultures at the University of Passau since 2006. She studied classical philology and romance studies at the University of Münster. Today, she heads the DFG project "Narration, expectation, experience. Disability in contemporary European theater and film". Hartwig also acts as a scout for the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation in the Henriette Herz Scouting Programme (2020-2023). In 2010, she was included in the database – The Portal to Excellent Women Academics. Since 2014, she has been a member of the academic advisory board of the Specialised Information Service for Romance Studies.

"DFG-Netzwerk: Komik und Behinderung im Schnittpunkt von Kultur-, Medien-, Sozial und Bildungswissenschaften"

"DFG-Netzwerk: Komik und Behinderung im Schnittpunkt von Kultur-, Medien-, Sozial und Bildungswissenschaften"

Behinderung wird kulturübergreifend eher als ernste Angelegenheit empfunden, doch finden sich komische Darstellungen von Menschen mit Behinderung seit jeher. Dennoch gibt es bislang so gut wie keine theoretisch und methodisch fundierten Auseinandersetzungen mit der Thematik „Komik und Behinderung“, weder in den Kultur- oder Medienwissenschaften noch in den Sozial- und Bildungswissenschaften.

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