Department Colloquium: Ralph Rosen (Penn) "Ps.-Longinus on Comedy and the Sublime"

Thursday, March 21, 2024 - 4:45pm to 6:15pm

402 Cohen Hall, 249 South 36th St.

*4:15-4:45 pm: Coffee and cookies in Cohen Hall 2nd Floor Lounge. All are welcome.

Speaker: Ralph Rosen, Vartan Gregorian Professor of the Humanities and Professor of Classical Studies at the Univeristy of Pennsylvania

Abstract: This talk asks whether there is any room for comedy in Ps.-Longinus’ discussion of sublimity in On the Sublime. Ps.-Longinus does not address the comic as an explicitly theoretical aesthetic question, but in the course of his treatise he does imply that in some instances comedy may in fact make some contribution to an experience of sublimity. A deeper question, however, is what sort of experience such a comic sublime might be, and whether comedy’s pervasive alignment with the “low” necessarily limits such an experience to one based on style rather than substance. I will suggest that that there is at least some indication in On the Sublime that Ps.-Longinus saw something in the comic itself, i.e., beyond comic style, something in the effects of laughter on emotions, that could move a person’s soul towards something akin to sublimity, if not sublimity itself. †