Australasian Humour Studies Network

Review Panel

Members of the AHSN Review Panel


  • Dr Debra Aarons, University of New South Wales
  • Dr Sarah Balkin, University of Melbourne
  • Dr Beatriz Carbajal-Carrera, University of Sydney
  • Emeritus Scientia Professor Conal Condren FAHA FASSA, University of Queensland
  • Conjoint Professor Michael Ewans FAHA, University of Newcastle
  • Professor Michael Haugh FAHA, University of Queensland
  • Dr Nicholas Holm, Massey University
  • Associate Professor Peter Kirkpatrick, University of Sydney
  • Dr Lucien Leon, Independent scholar
  • Mr Eric Löbbecke (Cartoonist)
  • Professor Meredith Marra, Victoria University of Wellington
  • Dr Angus McLachlan, Federation University Australia
  • Dr Jessica Milner Davis FRSN (AHSN Convenor), University of Sydney
  • Dr Benjamin Nickl, University of Sydney
  • Professor Robert Phiddian, Flinders University
  • Associate Professor Barbara Plester, University of Auckland
  • Dr David Rawlings, University of Melbourne
  • Dr Mark Rolfe, University of New South Wales
  • Associate Professor Richard Scully, University of New England
  • Dr Stephen Skalicky, Victoria University of Wellington



Debra Aarons

Debra Aarons is a linguist at the University of New South Wales. She is interested in the linguistic analysis of humour, especially the language of jokes and focuses on the formal grammatical properties as well as the pragmatics of humour. Her 2012 book, “Jokes and the Linguistic Mind” (Taylor & Francis), concerns the ways in which humour taps into our tacit linguistic knowledge. She also researches transgression in stand-up comedy, focusing on socially critical comedians like Lenny Bruce, Joan Rivers and Sarah Silverman, and, with Marc Mierowsky, has published on Jewish American comedians who pushed the limits of licence. With a  particular interest in the relationship between humour and disgust, as it is manifested in language as well as other modalities, she is currently preparing a book with Delia Chiaro of the University of Bologna, “Playing with Food: Language, Humour and Disgust”.


Sarah Balkin

Sarah Balkin is a Senior Lecturer in English and Theatre Studies at the University of Melbourne. Her current research focus is on the historical emergence of deadpan performance styles (1830-1930) and contemporary comedy’s relationship to humourlessness. Her monograph, Spectral Characters: Genre and Materiality on the Modern Stage, was published by the University of Michigan Press in 2019. Her work appears in journals such as Modern Drama, TDR/The Drama Review, Performance Research, and Textual Practice. For three years she was the Assistant Editor of Theatre Research International. Her article in this journal, “The Killjoy Comedian: Hannah Gadsby’s Nanette,” won the Australasian Association for Theatre, Drama and Performance Studies’ Marlies Thiersch Prize for research excellence. With Dr Marc Mierowsky (University of Melbourne), she is co-writing Comedy and Controversy: Scripting Public Speech (under contract in Cambridge University Press’s Elements in Contemporary Performance Texts series).


Beatriz Carbajal-Carrera

Beatriz Carbajal-Carrera is a Lecturer in Spanish and Latin American Studies at the University of Sydney. She is a linguist with training in pragmatics, sociolinguistics, discourse analysis and decolonial methodologies. Her research interests lie in humour, emotions, stereotypes, decoloniality, language learning, multimodality in digital discourse and critical literacy. Her current work focuses on the analysis of digital humour from a decolonial perspective. Her research has been published in outlets such as Critical Discourse Studies, The European Journal of Cultural Studies, System, The European Journal of Humour Research and Pragmalingüística. She has collaborated with the Real Academia Española de la Lengua Española in the building of a transnational reference corpus of Spanish language in the 21st century. Her international collaborations also include analysing emotions in the conversational language corpus Val.Es.Co, supported by Spanish-Government funding.

Conal Condren

Conal Condren is a Scientia Professor Emeritus at the University of NSW. He has held various overseas fellowships, is a Fellow of the Academy of the Humanities, of the Social Sciences in Australia, and of the Royal Society of New South Wales. Principally an intellectual historian, he has also published substantially on historical theory, on Shakespeare, and on language, especially concept formation and metaphor. His most recent book, Between Laughter and Satire (Palgrave, 2023), gives a good idea of the areas in which he can review AHSN proposals: satire, wit and humour in early modernity; the concept of humour, and the character of humour studies. The first of the book’s four long essays outlines the invention of a concept of humour and of a sense of humour between the 17th and 19th centuries and takes issue with two entrenched views within humour studies: that humour is ‘universal’, and that its study dates from antiquity. The second, as a corollary, is on the methodological difficulties in studying humour with more historical rigor; the third addresses the problems of defining satire, and what these reveal about the nature and limitations of definition; and the fourth concerns the sorts of political and economic theory used for humorous effect in the Yes Minister and Yes, Prime Minister UK TV satires (these last three essays are greatly developed from previously published papers).

Michael Ewans

Michael Ewans, FAHA, is Conjoint Professor in the School of Humanities, Creative Industries and Social Science at the University of Newcastle, Australia and a Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities. Before retiring from the Chair of Drama in 2011 he specialized in directing plays and chamber operas, translating Greek tragedy and comedy for performance, and publishing these translations with theatrical commentaries, and he continues to write books and articles which explore how operas and dramas work in the theatre. He has also explored the reception of Greek tragedy and the epic. His most recent books are Euripides: Medea. Translation and Theatrical Commentary and Staging Ancient Greek Plays: a Practical Guide.

Michael Haugh

Michael Haugh is Professor of Linguistics and Applied Linguistics in the School of Languages and Cultures at the University of Queensland. His research interests include pragmatics, conversation analysis, intercultural communication and humour studies, with a particular focus on the role of language in social interaction. He is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities, and is currently leading the establishment of the Language Data Commons of Australia (LDaCA) (https://www.ldaca.edu.au/) and the Australian Text Analytics Platform (ATAP) (https://www.atap.edu.au/), along with being co-director of the Language Technology and Data Analysis Laboratory (LADAL) (http://ladal.edu.au) at the University of Queensland.



Nicholas Holm

Nicholas Holm is a Senior Lecturer in Media Studies at Massey University, Aotearoa New Zealand. His research addresses the politics of popular culture with particular emphasis on humour and satire. He is the author of Humour as Politics (2017), and multiple articles on the politics of humour in contemporary media in journals including New Media + Society, European Journal of Cultural Studies, and Thesis Eleven. He is an editor of the journal Comedy Studies and a book reviews editor for Humor.

Peter Kirkpatrick

Peter Kirkpatrick taught for many years at Western Sydney University and the University of Sydney, where he is now an Honorary Associate Professor in the Discipline of English. With Fran De Groen he was co-editor of Serious Frolic: Essays on Australian Humour (UQP, 2009), and with Lindsay Foyle in 2016 he co-curated an exhibition on the history of Australian cartooning, Laugh Lines and Other Distractions, at Fisher Library at the University of Sydney. He has published widely in Australian cultural history and literary studies, specialising in poetry. He is currently working on a book-length history of modern Australian poetry and popular culture.

Lucien Leon

Lucien Leon is an independent scholar who writes on graphic political satire. He is especially interested in the meme image as a mode of democratic discourse. His political animations have been published in a variety of broadcast and online contexts, while his recent publications include ‘Walt Handelsman’ in American Political Humor: Masters of Satire and Their Impact on U.S. Policy and Culture (2019) and ‘Cartoons, Memes and Videos in Election 2019’, in Morrison’s Miracle: Analysing the 2019 Australian Federal Election (2020). His upcoming publications include the following book chapters: ‘Talking Pictures (and cartoons, videos, memes etc’ in 2022 Australian Federal Election, ed. Marian Simms, ANU Press, Canberra (co-authored with Richard Scully) and ‘In Memes We Trust: Co-option or Democratisation of Graphic Political Satire’, in Post-Moral Humour in a World of Gods and Old Monsters, ed. Benjamin Nickl and Mark Rolfe, Tampere University Press, Finland.

Eric Löbbecke

Eric Löbbecke born 1966, Sydney based MFA UNSW Art & Design artist. Cartooning/illustration career drawing for THE AUSTRALIAN newspaper since 1988. Finalist in the Waverley art prize 2023 and the Dobell Drawing Prize in 2008, 4 times Walkley award recipient, ACA cartoonist of the year 1993, and first prize in the Amnesty International Australian Media awards. In 2019 he completed 2 Masters of fine art degrees at UNSW Art & Design, one in coursework, followed up with a research grant, he attended the Cartooning Global conference in Paris, presenting “WORK IN PROGRESS” a new cartoonist working Model. He also spoke on (Disrupting Traditional Cartooning in the Digital Age) at the 26th AHSN Annual Conference at Griffith University 2020. In 2023, he presented his “Listening Devices” body of work at Sydney University, which preceded “Overwhelming” paintings, a second solo exhibition at Stella Downer Fine Art in April. Eric’s art practice continues his research on new technology as an adaptive tool for painters to create paintings utilising the traditional analogue methodologies, to digitally create “Unique 2d artworks” through a process of sculpture, digital painting output on canvas, enhanced by a final application of oil painting. He is currently represented by Stella Downer Fine Art.


Meredith Marra

Meredith Marra is Professor in Linguistics at Te Herenga Waka – Victoria University of Wellington. Since 2015 she has been Director of the Wellington Language in the Workplace Project, a long-standing sociolinguistic research project investigating effective workplace communication in a range of contexts. Meredith has been analysing humour in workplace talk for 25 years, most notably the use of humour to subvert authority, as a leadership strategy and as a means of creating boundaries between in-group and out-group members. This work regularly involves a focus on humour and identity, typically explored through a critical lens. Her recent books include Negotiating Boundaries at Work: Talking and Transitions (2017, EUP), Leadership, Discourse, and Ethnicity (2011, OUP), and Constructing Identities at Work (2011, Palgrave Macmillan).


Angus McLachlan

Angus McLachlan, now retired from Federation University Australia where he taught psychology for some thirty years, currently holds the position of an Honorary Senior Research Fellow at FUA. While he continues to recognise the value of the traditional psychological methodology of empirical research that seeks to accumulate evidence in support of general ideas about how we go about our daily lives, he now rejects the idea that there can be any science of human behaviour. He favours the sorts of examination of verbal and nonverbal acts carried out in Conversational and Discourse Analysis and similar pragmatic approaches. His understanding of what is achieved by laughter during interaction is informed by this type of analysis.

Jessica Milner Davis

Jessica Milner Davis PhD FRSN is an honorary research associate at the University of Sydney as well as at Brunel University’s Centre for Comedy Studies Research. A member of Clare Hall, Cambridge, UK, she has twice served as president of the International Society for Humor Studies (ISHS) and coordinates the Australasian Humour Studies Network. Her research and published works deal with the theory of humour, farce, satire, the comic tradition in European theatre and cross-cultural studies of humour in Australia, the UK, Japan and China. In 2018, she received the ISHS Lifetime Achievement Award for her interdisciplinary research in humour studies.


Benjamin Nickl

Benjamin Nickl lectures at The University of Sydney in the Department of International Comparative Literature, Culture, and Translation Studies. His most recent book on identity comedy in mass media entertainment deals with migration and questions how humour can change the minds of millions and who affects this change and where it happens, be it on screen, live on stage, or written on paper. His current projects on popular culture, technology, and digital laughter seek to locate technologies and objects of post-moral humour that have replaced the moral guidance of obsolete institutions and ethical frameworks in society, with a particular interest in emotions. He is also interested in the interdisciplinary practice of translation and how we can derive new knowledge from it for problem-based research contexts in areas such as environmental humanities or human rights/law applications.


Robert Phiddian

Robert Phiddian is Professor of English at Flinders University, Adelaide. He trained in 18th century literary satire, especially Swift and his contemporaries. His interests (and publications) have since branched out to include political cartoons, the theory of parody and satire, Australian satire, and some elements of performed and screen satire. In 2021-2, he was the Ross Steele Fellow, State Library of New South Wales and made a detailed study of early Australian magazines and journals and their humour. In 2023, he is the Charles J. Cole Fellow at Lewis Walpole Library, Yale University. He is CI, with Richard Scully and Stephanie Brookes, on the ARC Discovery Grant “Cartoon Nation: Australian Editorial Cartooning – Past, Present, and Future” (2023-26).


Barbara Plester


Barbara Plester is Associate Professor in the Department of Management and International Business at the University of Auckland. She serves as Associate Dean of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion for her Faculty. Her research explores workplace humour, fun, play, organizational culture, food rituals and critical, social perspectives of organizational life. She is happy to review humour papers that have a workplace context or include workplace behaviour relating to humour and fun. Additionally she has some research experience in cross-cultural humour, psychology of humour, gender and humour, as well as the dark side of humour and fun.

David Rawlings

Following completion of a Doctor of Philosophy degree at Oxford University (Magdalen College, 1983), David Rawlings worked for most of his academic career in the Melbourne School of Psychological Sciences, University of Melbourne, where he is currently an honorary Senior Fellow. In 2016, he completed a Master of Arts (Theology) degree at the University of Divinity, Melbourne. The focus of his research has been personality psychology, particularly the interface between personality and such areas as humour, aesthetic preference and creativity, religious belief and experience, and psychopathology.


Mark Rolfe

Mark Rolfe is an honorary lecturer with the School of Social Sciences at the University of New South Wales . He has researched Australian politics, rhetoric, propaganda, political satire, American politics, populism, and political leadership. Recent publications include: ‘The idea of national humour and  Americanization in Australia and Britain’, in the European Journal of Humour Research (EJHR) (2022); ‘The Danish Cartoons, Charlie Hebdo and the culture wars: satiric limits in comparative national and transnational perspectives’, in the EJHR (2021); ‘Is this a Dagg which I see before me? John Clarke and the politics in his political humour’, in The Journal of Comedy Studies (2019); ‘The Populist Elements of Australian Political Satire and the Debt to the Americans and the Augustans’, in Satire and Politics The Interplay of Heritage and Practice (2017).



Richard Scully

Richard Scully, FRHistS, is Associate Professor in Modern History at the University of New England. Richard has a deep interest in the history and development of political cartoons and graphic satire and is the author of Eminent Victorian Cartoonists (2018) and British Images of Germany: Admiration, Antagonism & Ambivalence, 1860-1914 (2012). He has served on the editorial board of the International Journal of Comic Art and the comité de lecture of Ridiculosa since 2013 and co-edited Drawing the Line: Using Cartoons as Historical Evidence (2009) with Marian Quartly; Comic Empires: Imperialism in Cartoons, Caricature, and Sarirical Art (2020) with Andrekos Varnava; and Academia and Higher Learning in Popular Culture: Seen and Unseen Universities (2023) with Marcus K. Harmes. His work has appeared in German Studies Review, the Journal of Victorian CultureEuropean Comic Art, and Victorian Periodicals Review. He is CI, with Robert Phiddian and Stephanie Brookes, on the ARC Discovery Grant “Cartoon Nation: Australian Editorial Cartooning – Past, Present, and Future” (2023-26).


Stephen Skalicky

Stephen Skalicky received his PhD in Applied Linguistics from Georgia State University in 2018 and his MA in Rhetoric and Composition from Washington State University in 2012. He joined the School of Linguistics and Applied Language Studies at Victoria University of Wellington in February of 2019. Stephen is a computational social scientist who researches connections between language and cognition. In his research, he employs natural language processing, text analytics/classification, behavioural experiments, and statistical modelling to explore a variety of language phenomena. His research projects involve the exploration of different lexical, syntactic, and semantic aspects of creative language, such as sarcasm, metaphor, humour, and satire. He also investigates the development of lexical and syntactic knowledge when learning an additional language. Stephen was a member of the Organizing Committee for AHSN2021 at Massey University, Wellington Campus.