Humor in its various forms, from comedy and satire to stand-up and cartoons, is regularly at the centre of juridical debates and actual litigation: from defamation and blasphemy to copyright violations and incitement to hatred. Yet, due to its inherent ambiguity and frequent elusiveness, humor can make it particularly difficult to draw a clear line between lawful and unlawful expression. How exactly does the law regulate humor, and how does that change across different judicial systems or historical periods? How do certain forms and practices of humor respond, in different places and at different times, to the restrictions of the law? How might humor studies contribute to and illuminate the legal challenges posed by different forms of comic expression? How might humor, moreover, challenge the logics and procedures of law?
Although recent studies have stressed the benefits of collaboration between jurists and humor experts (Godioli 2020, Little 2019, Milner Davis and Roach Anleu 2018), the potential for interdisciplinary dialogue is still vastly unexplored. This special issue will investigate the intersection between humor and the law from various perspectives — we aim to promote diversity in terms of theoretical frameworks, historical and geographical contexts, judicial systems and legal issues addressed. We welcome full-length articles (approximately 8-10,000 words) which should consist of close readings of one specific example of an actual legal case concerning humor in any medium (including for instance literature, stand-up comedy, film, cartoons, or memes).