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Title: Belly laughs and gut fears : the fat female body as site of comedy
Author: Hole, Anne
ISNI:       0000 0001 3580 3151
Awarding Body: University of Sussex
Current Institution: University of Sussex
Date of Award: 2001
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This thesis is concerned with the relationship between the fat female body and comedy as it has been expressed through comic representations. It seeks to explain the background to the common-sense understanding of the fat female body as innately funny, and the continuing potency of the connection. Also of prime interest are the ways in which contemporary fat female comedians relate to the history of the conceptual link and use it in their work. The research consisted primarily of detailed textual analysis of the comedies and comic representations themselves, both in literary and popular cultural spheres- I studied Chaucer, Rabelais, Shakespeare, Jonson, Restoration comedy and Fielding, then moved through popular culture sites and texts such as Music Hall, seaside postcards, comic strips, Carry On films and television situation comedies to the careers of Victoria Wood, Dawn French and Jo Brand. A wide range of theoretical models was used, including work from cultural studies, comedy theory and feminism. As far as I am aware, this is the first thesis submitted to a British university where the specific focus is the fat female body in comedy and it adds to both the existing work on women and comedy and feminist discourses of the body. In this thesis, I locate an ancestral link between the fat female body and comedy through the concepts of Carnival and the grotesque. Further proposing that the relationship has remained strong because it has served social functions, particularly in terms of dealing with anxieties about the changing social role and status of women. This alignment springs from the gut fears aroused by the figure and the particular ways in which comedy can deal with them. Finally, I argue that the traditional use of the fat female body as a site for comedy has allowed contemporary fat female comedians to reappropriate that site for themselves with feminist political potential.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available