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The Art of Satire: From the Classics to Contemporary Media

Exploring Satire in Literature

Select One Of The Essay Topics Below:

1. Menippean satire (both ancient and modern) contains characters who, as Northrop Frye states, contain "Menippean blood"; these characters represent the targets being criticized in the satire. Select a satire from our course and discuss the satiric significance of its key characters. It is often necessary to consider historical context when analyzing a work of satire; select a work of satire from our course (Not: "A Modest Proposal") and discuss how the author critiques the ideologies, institutions, and cultural norms of their day.


2. John C. Ball argues that satire is a "mode of oppositional writing' well suited to a critique of colonialism (and neo-colonialism). Discuss how American identity and colonialist ideology is undermined or exposed in Kincaid's "A Small Place" or Carey's "American Dreams'


3. The 21st century has seen a proliferation of satiric forms throughout popular media. Select a contemporary satiric media — fake news, Twitter, stand-up, songs/music, an animated or live-action television series, film, graphic novels, etc. — and explore its use of satiric forms (Menippean, Juvenalian, Horatian) and techniques. There are so many satirical shows, performances, and satirists! This can be an opprtunity to explore a topic that interests you!


4. Write your own satire (approx. 3 pages), critiquing a target of your choice by utilizing the appropriate rhetorical methods/devices of satire that we have studied this year (persona, irony, parody. defamiliarization, hyperbole, and the grotesque, etc.), also keeping in mind Juvenalian, Horatian, and Menippean traditions. Next, write an explanatory critique (approx. 1.5 pages) that outlines the context(s) and purpose(s) of your satire and the logic behind your selection of satirical form and devices. This aspect of the project is crucial. If you choose this topic, you are required to consult with me in advance!

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