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Greek vase painting and the origins of visual humour

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From prehistoric metal extraction to medieval alchemy to modern industry, chemistry has been central to our understanding and use of the physical world as well as to trade, warfare and medicine. In its turn, chemistry has been shaped by changing technologies, institutions and cultural beliefs. A Cultural History of Chemistry presents the first detailed and authoritative survey from antiquity to today, focusing on the West but integrating key developments in Egypt, Mesopotamia, and the Arabic-Islamic and Byzantine empires.
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Ugliness, in a society obsessed with beauty was often feared and mocked, but it could also be used to criticise mainstream values. This was the choice made by Athenian vase-painters of the sixth to the fourth centuries BC. Mass-produced at the height of Athenian democracy, painted vases were an inexpensive and popular artform that offer us an amazing insight into the daily life of the great city. In contrast to other artforms often commissioned or too expensive to fool around with, vase-painters made a liberal use of parody, visual puns, situation comedy and caricature. The study of the visibility of ugliness on Greek vases opens a number of unexpected theoretical and methodological issues which help us better define visual humour in ancient Greece. At least three forms of ugliness were displayed on vases: (1) caricature, an intentional form of ugliness; (2) the inherent ugliness of physical deformity, foreigners, the elderly and the ‘other’; (3) finally, the construction of ugliness both physical and moral through the intrusion of a ubiquitous humorous mythological creature called the satyr in a ‘civilised’ society presents a third pathway to ugliness.
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O conjunto de vasos em terracota no formato de kylix detém a função social de taça para beber vinho que, provavelmente, circulava junto aos simposiastas nos banquetes. Acredito que ao final da festa as taças eram depositadas no santuário do deus Dioniso. A aparência das kylikes que selecionamos detém a peculiaridade de simular uma face devido à presença de dois grandes pares de olhos.
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This chapter introduces the book and discusses satire as a genre and the practice of the satirical mode. It outlines how the relationship between satire and politics in various political systems is explored in the subsequent chapters and summarises their findings to give an overview of the book. Arguing that Australasian (Australian and New Zealand) cultures of using humour provide useful insights into how political satire operates, the chapter describes what characterises the Australian use of humour and the origins and etymology of the term “larrikin”. In contrast to the serious-minded nature of the British John Bull image or the American Uncle Sam, Australians have come to use the irreverent image of the larrikin as a shorthand to depict their national identity. The authors trace how this image has evolved over time, especially as mediated through Australia’s cartooning history, and why cartoonists have played so important a role in national self-definition. A number of popular and long-lived cartoon characters have incorporated the larrikin over the years and, taken up by successful writers, playwrights and comedians, the larrikin has provided a useful image for politicians to adopt when appealing for the popular vote. As several cases show, cartoonists can turn the image back against the nation’s leaders when they expose themselves through hubris. The larrikin’s current status in Australia’s multi-cultural and diverse society is uncertain, although its connection with nationalist populism still remains.
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The paper’s general context is visual humor in ancient Greece but its main focus is on the way in which women from different backgrounds were portrayed and mocked by (mainly) male Athenian vase-paintersbetween the sixth and fourth centuries BC.1 The driving idea is that men tried to the best of their abilities to control women, and their fears are revealed in comic depictions. The artists were really artisans: they usually did not have patrons as they mass-produced their often well-designed utilitarian objects for the marketplace. Their production followed the rule of fashion and because these objects were ubiquitous in Athens, and showed every aspect of daily life and mythology, they offer us a popular vision of what troubled, fascinated, or amused most Athenians. In many respects, the main problem in studying women in classical Athens is that they have often been seen as an undifferentiated mass.
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