Profile Dr. Thomas Messerli

Thomas Messerli is a researcher and lecturer in English linguistics and has written his doctoral dissertation on “Repetition in Telecinematic Humour – How US American sitcoms employ repetitive patterns in the construction of multimodal humour” at the English department of the University of Basel (supervised by Prof. Dr. Miriam Locher and Dr. habil. Andreas Langlotz).

His dissertation examines the functions of multimodal repetition in constructing humour within the communicative setting of Telecinematic Discourse (the discourse of fictional film and television). It brings together research in the Pragmatics of Fiction, Discourse Analysis, Text Linguistics and Humour Studies and empirically analyses a corpus of US American sitcoms in order to create a typology of repetition-based humour in telecinematic discourse as well as to examine the workings of formal and semantic repetition in sitcom humour. 

He has an MA in English and German Linguistics and Literatures from the University of Zürich as well as an MA in Film Studies from the joint programme Réseau Cinéma (Universities of Zürich, Lausanne and others).

In other projects, he has been working on the interactional role of extradiegetic laughter, humour construction in CMC, political humour, audiovisual translation with a focus on subtitling, as well as on Human-Computer Interaction, where interaction with and attitudes to Voice-User Interfaces have been his main research interest.

Since 2018, his main research focus has been his cumulative habilitation project, in which he investigates interlingually subtitled films and television series both as a form of cross-cultural communication that can be theorised from a target audience perspective, and as the result of particular translation processes and modalities that include individual and collaborative translation by professional and non-professional subtitlers.

For a full CV and further information on Thomas Messerli’s research and teaching see