Call for Proposals

Humor and Conflict in the Digital Age Conference

29-30 November 2023

Ghent University, Belgium

Humor and Conflict in the Digital Age (HACIDA), an ENLIGHT Scientific Research Network at Ghent University, welcomes proposals for 20-minute presentations as part of a two-day conference in Ghent, Belgium.

The HACIDA conference will focus on the intersection of two complicated issues: the nature of and interpretive difficulties presented by humor across different media (such as memes, cartoons, and stand-up comedy); and how the Digital Revolution has exacerbated these already difficult interpretive issues, often through the decontextualized circulation of humorous images and statements outside of their original national and linguistic borders. 

The Digital Revolution has therefore driven two forms of conflict: 

  1. Interpretive conflict: that is, the ambiguity inherent to humorous forms of speech, which often presuppose at least two levels of signification: the surface and intended meaning of, for instance, an ironic statement or image; and 
  2. Social and societal conflict: that is, when different and relative cultural norms, standards, mores, and sensitivities have been directly or accidentally challenged by humorous works that have been circulated online often outside of local contexts and frequently through the borderless world of the Internet. 

We welcome both theoretical analyses and case studies of specific past or ongoing controversies and how the increasing interconnectedness of the world has driven interpretive misunderstanding and especially cultural conflict. Though this conference will focus on many negative conflicts, we also understand humor as a potentially positive force in online speech. Humor can be a vehicle for cross-cultural or communitarian understanding (i.e., a way to bring people together in communal laughter); and a tool of resistance or means of challenging power. Humor can thus bring about a positive conflict in this way, one extended through digital media.

Our confirmed keynote speakers are Chi-Hé Elder (University of East Anglia) and Eleni Kapogianni (University of Kent); Giselinde Kuipers (KU Leuven); and Raúl Pérez (La Verne University). The conference will also feature a public-facing roundtable with humor practitioners, including stand-up comedian Shazia Mirza, writer and producer Annie Julia Wyman (co-creator of The Chair on Netflix and Welcome to Chippendales on Hulu), cartoonist Tjeerd Royaards, and Mike Gillis (head writer at The Onion).

Proposals (of 300-500 words) and short bios (100-200 words) should be sent in one email (subject line: “HACIDA Conference”) to both conference organizers: Andrew Bricker (, Ghent University; and Alberto Godioli (, Groningen University, by 15 April 2023. The conference organizers will respond with final decisions by early May 2023.

Note that this is an onsite-only event (meaning no remote presentations, for instance). Some financial support is available to early career researchers whose proposals are accepted for presentation. Those who cannot obtain a full reimbursement for conference-related travel should note in their email to the conference organizers that they are seeking some degree of financial support from HACIDA and, if possible, signal roughly how much.

About the city of Ghent ( Ghent is a bustling medieval city of about 250,000 people situated less than 45 minutes by train to either Antwerp or Brussels (Airport: BRU) or 25 minutes by train to Bruges. There are also fast and easy train connections to Paris (1h15m), London (2h), Amsterdam (2h) and Cologne (2h).


Conference Organizers:

Andrew Bricker (Assoc. Prof. English Literature, Ghent University)

Alberto Godioli (Assoc. Prof. European Culture and Literature, University of Groningen)


For more info on HACIDA: