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Slapstick ModernismChaplin to Kerouac to Iggy Pop$
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William Solomon

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780252040245

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: April 2017

DOI: 10.5406/illinois/9780252040245.001.0001

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Harry Langdon

(p.123) 4 Becoming-Child
Slapstick Modernism

William Solomon

University of Illinois Press

This chapter takes the concept of “becoming-child” from Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari's study of Franz Kafka in order to account for the peculiarity of Harry Langdon's screen persona. The bizarrely babyish acting style of Langdon offers a valuable point of access to one of the fundamental traits of silent screen comedy as a whole: its sustained appeal to immature behaviors and correlative rejection of adult standards of behaviors, as well as the normative sexual roles these tend to enforce. What emerges here is one of the strongest links between slapstick film and the counterculture generation's affirmation of youthful irreverence as an oppositional stance.

Keywords:   becoming-child, Gilles Deleuze, Félix Guattari, Harry Langdon, silent screen comedy, immature behavior, youthful irreverence, sexual roles, slapstick film

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