Humor in its various forms, from comedy and satire to stand-up and cartoons, is regularly at the centre of juridical debates and actual litigation: from defamation and blasphemy to copyright violations and incitement to hatred. Yet, due to its inherent ambiguity and frequent elusiveness, humor can make it particularly difficult to draw a clear line between lawful and unlawful expression. How exactly does the law regulate humor, and how does that change across different judicial systems or historical periods? How do certain forms and practices of humor respond, in different places and at different times, to the restrictions of the law? How might humor studies contribute to and illuminate the legal challenges posed by different forms of comic expression? How might humor, moreover, challenge the logics and procedures of law?
Although recent studies have stressed the benefits of collaboration between jurists and humor experts (Godioli 2020, Little 2019, Milner Davis and Roach Anleu 2018), the potential for interdisciplinary dialogue is still vastly unexplored. This special issue will investigate the intersection between humor and the law from various perspectives — we aim to promote diversity in terms of theoretical frameworks, historical and geographical contexts, judicial systems and legal issues addressed. We welcome full-length articles (approximately 8-10,000 words) which should consist of close readings of of an actual legal case concerning humor in any medium (including for instance literature, stand-up comedy, film, cartoons, or memes).
The special issue proposal has received preliminary interest from (Cardozo Law School). If you are interested in contributing, please send an email to by including an abstract (ca. 250-500 words) and a short bio note (max. 200 words). The outcome of the selection process will be communicated within one month after the deadline. We are expecting completed contributions by Spring or Summer 2021.
Coronavirus note: The editorial team began planning this CFP before the outbreak of Covid-19 and thus under very different conditions and with very different expectations. As a result, we understand that many potential contributors might not be able to complete their articles by the proposed deadline. If, however, you are still interested in contributing, but perhaps along a revised timeline, you should be in contact with the editors (); we are more than happy to offer flexibility to potential contributors.
The organizing team:
Brigitte Adriaensen (Radboud University/Open University)
Andrew Bricker (Ghent University)
Alberto Godioli (University of Groningen)
Ted Laros (Open University)
Little, L. (2019). . Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Milner Davis, J. and Roach Anleu, S. eds (2018). . London: Palgrave Macmillan.