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Emancipation as a Matter of Style: Humour and Eschatology in Eagleton and ŽiŽek

Journal article
Authors Ola Sigurdson
Published in Political Theology
Volume 14
Issue 2
Pages 235–251
ISSN 1462-317X
Publication year 2013
Published at Department of Literature, History of Ideas, and Religion
Pages 235–251
Language en
Keywords erry Eagleton; humour and philosophy; humour and politics; humour and theology; philosophical style; theological style; Slavoj Žižek
Subject categories Sociology of religion, Faith and reason, Philosophy of religion, Ethics


This article will focus upon the relationship between humour, politics and theology. More precisely, it will inquire whether there is some kind of cor- relation between style of humour and political standpoint in two contem- porary Marxist authors that also have an interest in theology, the British literary critic Terry Eagleton and the Slovenian philosopher and psycho- analyst Slavoj Žižek. If Eagleton’s style is characterized by the strategic use of wit, influenced by the late Dominican friar and philosopher Herbert McCabe, Žižek’s use of humour in his philosophy is more about the tell- ing of jokes that supposedly illustrate a political predicament, thus creating a humorous disidentification on behalf of the reader with her or his circum- stances. The article ends with the suggestion that there is indeed a relation- ship between humour, politics and eschatology in Eagleton and Žižek, but that their different senses of humour also correspond to differing political agendas. But one should beware of generalizing this insight, as all authors might not be as stylistically gifted as those two.

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