Stupid Humanism

Folly as Competence in Early Modern and Twenty-First-Century Culture

  • Christine Hoffmann

Part of the Early Modern Cultural Studies book series (EMCSS)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xiv
  2. Christine Hoffmann
    Pages 1-14
  3. Christine Hoffmann
    Pages 69-108
  4. Christine Hoffmann
    Pages 109-128
  5. Back Matter
    Pages 169-192

About this book


This book frames the undeniably copious 21st-century performances of stupidity that occur within social media as echoes of rhetorical experiments conducted by humanist writers of the Renaissance. Any historical overview of humanism will associate it with copia—abundance of expression—and the rhetorical practices essential to managing it. This book argues that stupidity was and is a synonym for copia, making the humanism of which copia is a central element an inherently stupid philosophy. A transhistorical exploration of stupidity demonstrates that not only is excess still the surest way to eloquence, but it is also just the kind of spammy, speculative undertaking to generate a more generous and inventive comprehension of human and nonhuman relationships. In chapters exploring the rhetorics of memes, attack ads, public shaming blogs, clickbait and gifs, Stupid Humanism outlines the possibilities for a humanism less invested in the normative logics that enshrine knowledge, eloquence and linear development as the chief indicators of an active, articulated selfhood and more supportive of a program for queer knowledge, trivial pursuits, anti-social ethics and the curious relationships that form around and in response to abundance of expression.


literary analysis of memes stupidity and humanism spam in the 21st and 16th centuries copia and the Disaster Girl meme Erasmus's Praise of Folly and contemporary politics early modern philosophy and modern political attack ads Menippean satire in the twenty-first century Menippean satire and modern public shaming Robert Burton’s Anatomy of Melancholy Public shaming on Twitter and Tumblr enforcement of social norms on Tumblr and Twitter Clickbait and early modern literature Edmund Spencer's The Faerie Queene Sir Scudamore The .gif format and storytelling the .gif and Spencer's epic

Authors and affiliations

  • Christine Hoffmann
    • 1
  1. 1.West Virginia UniversityMorgantownUSA

Bibliographic information