Date of Award

Spring 4-27-2016

Document Type

Honors Project

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Sociology and Anthropology

First Advisor

Mentore, Laura

Second Advisor

Gable, Eric

Major or Concentration



"Laughter is the best medicine," the old maxim goes. However, it wasn't until recently that scientists tested this theory to prove the validity of this claim. In my thesis, I investigate the origins of Euro-American inquiries of human laughter, from Plato to Hobbes, and demonstrate how historical imaginings of laughter impact the modern biosocial discourse of humor and laughing to see how far we have- or haven't- come in proving ourselves right. With this "anthropology of professionals," I will offer an anthropological account of what laughter means to humans in order to better understand why biosocial models of laughing fall short of giving us a satisfying punchline to the riddle, "why do we laugh?"

Included in

Anthropology Commons