Reviewing this book for a humor studies journal is ironic. Frances McDonald investigates something she claims lies outside humor studies, posthumorist laughter, posed as a challenge to a basic premise of the field: that laughter functions as a sign of an individual’s emotions—for example, superiority, relief, camaraderie, or joy. The goal of the book, however, is not to “place a moratorium on discussing humor or comedy, nor is it to detail or otherwise celebrate humorlessness,” but rather “to critique and offer an alternative to humor studies as a set of critical methods and protocols for thinking about laughter” (23, emphasis in original).

McDonald relies on affect studies to ground her tracking of posthumorist laughter in a set of chapters that begins with an analysis of Nathanael West’s The Day of the Locust, traverses Georges Bataille’s Atheological Summa, Hélène Cixous’ The Book of Promethea, and various black humor...

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