HUMOR IN “THE FEYNMAN LECTURES ON PHYSICS”: TYPOLOGY AND PRAGMATIC FUNCTIONS

  • Nataliia Kramar
Keywords: humor, R.P. Feynman, lectures, academic discourse, pragmatic function

Abstract

The present paper deals with the use of humor by Richard P. Feynman in his famous and still popular Lectures on Physics, presented to undergraduate students at Caltech in 1961-63. Modern perspectives on humor in academic discourse are discussed, with various taxonomies of humor types being compared. It is suggested that the underlying rhetorical mechanism and the availability of deprecation should be construed as the main criteria when classifying humor in lectures and other academic events with uneven power balance. It is established that R.P. Feynman often resorts to deprecatory humor targeted towards Humanities, which he did not believe to be true science. This type of humor functions to draw the line between the in-group (the participants) and the out-group (the others), thus enhancing the solidarity in the former one. In terms of rhetoric, R. P. Feynman mostly uses irony, comparison/contrast and hyperbole to create humorous effect. Far from being merely entertainment, humorous comments perform important pragmatic functions, such as establishing rapport, focusing the attention of the audience, and making the content more memorable

Published
2018-10-18
How to Cite
Kramar, N. (2018). HUMOR IN “THE FEYNMAN LECTURES ON PHYSICS”: TYPOLOGY AND PRAGMATIC FUNCTIONS. Scientific Notes of Ostroh Academy National University: Philology Series, 1(69), 225-228. Retrieved from https://journals.oa.edu.ua/Philology/article/view/1623