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Title: Tanto per ridere, 'just for a laugh' : the functions of humorous narratives in a small Apennine community
Author: Masoni, Licia
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 2007
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This thesis aims to explore the functions of a corpus of humorous narratives collected during fieldwork in Frassinoro, a small village in the Apennines, in Northern Italy. The focus is on their uses in daily interaction, at the time when the narratives were most popular – that is before the radical changes brought by the arrival of ready-made entertainments, such as radio and television. The increase in the creation and exchange of humorous narratives in those days is seen as the result of a change in needs and tastes, whereby the old folkloric narratives – which has built the informants’ worldview as children – were no longer functional. In their place, a more concrete kind of storytelling emerged, seemingly in response to new individual and group preoccupations. Following this assumption, the stories may be seen as a means of negotiating identity at a time of accelerated social change through increased contacts with the outside world. The general context of the stories is studied to show how the restricted code on which they relied allowed everyone in the community to enjoy narrative rights to the stories, and how performing them conferred inclusion. After context, the themes of the narratives are analysed with emphasis on the fact that the stories appear to trigger laughter about a few main sources of anxiety or threat to the community. The analysis aims to illustrate how the individual and the group provoke laughter through skilfully tailored narratives as an alternative to direct discussion of fraught issues, thus avoiding conflicts, maintaining cohesion within the community and preserving its form. Far from subversive in their intent, these narratives seem to be suggesting that in order to belong to a functioning community one must fully observe its structure and status roles, which proves to be an effective way of preserving the village’s sense of identity during periods of rapid evolution.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available