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Durham University

Research & business

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Mr Matthew Hilborn

Contact Mr Matthew Hilborn (email at matthew.hilborn@durham.ac.uk)

My research focuses on predominantly black, grim humour in contemporary Spanish cinema since 1975 - the year of the death of Francisco Franco, which ushered in the tentative beginnings of a democratic transition. More specifically, it traces the development of Spanish film comedy from the late 70s to the present day, and analyses three central filmmakers (Pedro Almodóvar, Bigas Luna, and Álex de la Iglesia) to interrogate to what degree this funniness is characteristically Spanish - or "Spanish". I am fascinated by 1) the usefulness of laughter when coming to terms - quite literally - with (national) trauma, 2) the presentation of comic bodies of excess, both living and dead, after a bloody Civil War that left graves unmarked and bodies unidentified, and 3) how the filmic staging of frequently hostile, unnerving stand-up comedy implicates the spectator in shared complicity, probing at their need for a mirthful escape. All of this feeds into a concern with how comedy constructs and/or dismantles national identity/ies.

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