Salon: An Age of Schadenfreude

  • Performance
Photograph of a group of people sitting in a circle on the carpet in the Wellcome Collection Reading Room, engaged in discussion.
Reading Room workshop, Thomas SG Farnetti. Source: Wellcome Collection. CC BY-NC.

What you’ll do

Your effortlessly successful colleague gets turned down for a promotion. It rains during your friend’s perfect holiday. So why are you smiling? 

We’ve all felt a furtive pleasure at someone else’s misfortune, and the Germans have given it a name: Schadenfreude. From 'schaden' (damage) and 'freude' (joy), the emotion has perplexed philosophers and psychologists for centuries. Why can it be so satisfying to witness another’s distress? And what, if anything, should we do about it?

Inspired by the ‘Schadenfreude’ book, this Salon will bring together artists and performers (and you) to offer a distinctive perspective on this most morally conflicted of emotions. Come along and join the conversation.

About your contributors

Photograph of Tiffany Watt Smith

Tiffany Watt Smith


Cultural historian Tiffany Watt Smith will curate the evening. She is author of 'Schadenfreude: The Joy of Another's Misfortune' (Wellcome Books, October 2018).

Photograph of Lois Weaver

Lois Weaver


Lois Weaver is an artist, activist and Professor of Contemporary Performance at Queen Mary University of London.

Photograph of Olivia Armstrong

Olivia Armstrong


Olivia Armstrong is a storyteller of folk tales, legends and myths.

Photograph of Melanie Wilson

Melanie Wilson


Melanie Wilson is a multidisciplinary performance maker.


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Need to know


We’ll be in the Reading Room on level 2. You can walk up the spiral staircase to the Reading Room door, or take the lift up and then head left from the Library Desk.

First come, first seated

Booking a ticket for a free event does not guarantee a place on the day. Doors usually open 15 minutes before an event starts, and you can take your seats in order of arrival. We advise arriving ten minutes before the event is scheduled to start.