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Palgrave Macmillan

The Laughter of Sarah

Biblical Exegesis, Feminist Theory, and the Concept of Delight

ISBN 9781137373113
Publication Date September 2013
Formats Hardcover Ebook (EPUB) Ebook (PDF) 
Publisher Palgrave Pivot

This book plays with the notion of the laughter of delight, and the way in which it has gone largely unheard in the Western interpretative tradition. The scope of the work stretches from the ancient to the modern, but it has a consistent leitmotif: the delighted laughter of the matriarch Sarah in the book of Genesis, when she gives birth to her son Isaac. This laughter is "heard" first through biblical commentaries, then through twentieth-century theorists of laughter; finally, contemporary feminist theorists are used to help realize the radical openness of the laughter of delight.

Catherine Conybeare is Professor of Classics, Department of Greek, Latin, and Classical Studies, Bryn Mawr College, USA. She also serves as Director of the Graduate Group in Archaeology, Classics, and History of Art. Her previous publications include Paulinus Noster (Oxford 2000) and The Irrational Augustine (Oxford 2006); she is now working on a book about Carthage as place and symbol in Western imperialism.

Introduction: Ridebat de Facto Sara
1. Sarah in the Bible: a Peculiar Laugh
2. Sarah, Philo, and the Laugh beyond Laughter
3. Laughter and Power
4. Laughter and the Body
5. Laughter, Volatility, Instability
6. "Empty Speech": Laughter and Language
7. A Time for Laughter


"This is an ingeniously conceived study of a peculiar and peculiarly important phenomenon: the laughter of sheer delight. Conybeare once again shows us the benefits of being able to blend a classicist's discipline of reading with an unfettered philosophical imagination." - James Wetzel, Professor of Philosophy, Villanova University, US "The Laughter of Sarah is a beautifully written, elegantly conceptualized, and wide ranging meditation on what Conybeare dubs "the laughter of delight." Deftly navigating the thought worlds of theorists both ancient and modern, religious and secular, Conybeare shows us a side of laughter that is often neglected - laughter that is joyous, embodied, eruptive, radically open, and thereby also deeply subversive of reigning assumptions about what it means to know, to be, to live, to love." - Virginia Burrus, Professor, Drew University, USA
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