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After Nanette: Hannah Gadsby’s Comedic Accountability


After Nanette: Hannah Gadsby’s Comedic Accountability

MacDonald, Katherine (2023) After Nanette: Hannah Gadsby’s Comedic Accountability. Masters thesis, Concordia University.

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Ethics in comedy is a topic that is particularly fraught with tension in contemporary discourse, which often revolves around questions of what is “off-limits” or whether a joke “punches up” or “punches down.” Hannah Gadsby’s comedy specials, Nanette and Douglas deal directly with this tension and, rather than offering neat resolution, Gadsby suspends this tension and, I argue, transforms it into a productive form of uncertainty. While several authors in feminist humour studies have already explored Gadsby’s contributions to feminist comedy, my contribution to this body of work pays particular attention to the formal qualities of her stand-up through examining her metanarrative technique. By introducing a metanarrative, self-critiquing element to her stand-up specials, Gadsby’s work points toward an ethic of storytelling which pushes up against the limits of representation and embraces the ambiguous territory of misunderstanding and misrepresentation. My analysis borrows critical frameworks from Butler’s Giving an Account of Oneself, Ahmed’s work on the circulation of affect and the feminist killjoy, and
Halberstam’s work on failure and refusal, among other sources, to put Gadsby in conversation with a canon of contemporary feminist philosophy and ultimately elevate humour as a mode of storytelling that can allow for the ambiguities and anxieties that are inherent to a relational mode of ethics.

Divisions:Concordia University > Faculty of Arts and Science > English
Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Authors:MacDonald, Katherine
Institution:Concordia University
Degree Name:M.A.
Date:1 April 2023
Thesis Supervisor(s):Bobker, Danielle
ID Code:992052
Deposited On:21 Jun 2023 14:21
Last Modified:21 Jun 2023 14:21
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