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Instructor: Nicholas Zautra

Room: TBA
Office Hours: TBA, or by appointment
Email: nzautra@indiana.edu
Introduction/Premise: Lord Byron was quoted as saying, Fools are my theme,
let satire be my song. Satire is a literary form in which topical issues, folly, or evil
are scorned by means of ridicule and irony, with the intent of shaming individuals,
and society, into improvement. Satire has been regarded as one of the most
effective communicative sources for understanding the history, social situations,
and social institutions of a society. This course adopts an interdisciplinary
approach to examining the philosophical, ethical, political, psychological, and
social dimensions of satire. We will study the history from which satire develops,
its various forms and how it works, the creative processes by which satire is
generated, and its philosophical foundations. We conclude the course with the
presentation of an original satirical work by each student.
Course Objectives: We will work through the various modes, topics, and
mediums among satire's historical cross-cultural development, answering the
questions: How is satire special in comparison to other forms of criticism? What
makes satire so effective? What components are necessary and sufficient for
satire to function as it does? Does satire have to be humorous? What motivates
those who create satire? Is there an appropriate level of satirical content, or can
some satire go too far? And, why is satire received differently in different parts
of the world? We will address these questions, and many of our own through
reflective writing assignments, philosophical discussions, outside research, film
screenings, public lectures and panels, and a creative final project. In doing so,
we will finish the semester with a thorough understanding of the nature and

function of satire, and more generally, the crucial role which social and moral
criticism play in providing valuable insights into an individual, a group, or even a
nations collective values, expectations, and norms.
Attendance/Class Participation Policy: Classes will involve a great deal of
participation. Thus, student participation and attendance is expected. You are
expected to have read the assignments and be ready to discuss the material in
depth. Your overall grade for the course will be lowered by a half letter grade for
every unexcused absence you have beyond three permitted absences.
Plagiarism: The Indiana University Code of Student Rights, Responsibilities,
and Conduct (2005) indicates that students may be disciplined for several
different kinds of academic misconduct. In particular the code states: Plagiarism
is defined as presenting someone elses work, including the work of other
students, as ones own. Any ideas or materials taken from another source for
either written or oral use must be fully acknowledged, unless the information is
common knowledge. What is considered 'common knowledge' may differ from
course to course. a. A student must not adopt or reproduce ideas, opinions,
theories, formulas, graphics, or pictures of another person without
acknowledgment. b. A student must give credit to the originality of others and
acknowledge an indebtedness whenever: 1. Directly quoting another persons
actual words, whether oral or written; 2. Using another persons ideas, opinions,
or theories; 3. Paraphrasing the words, ideas, opinions, or theories of others,
whether oral or written; 4. Borrowing facts, statistics, or illustrative material; or 5.
Offering materials assembled or collected by others in the form of projects or
collections without acknowledgment." (quoted from Code of Student Rights,
Responsibilities, and Conduct, Part II, Student Responsibilities, Academic
For the full IU policy on plagiarism: http://www.indiana.edu/~istd/definition.html
Not sure? Take this self-test: http://www.indiana.edu/~istd/
This interdisciplinary course will involve several different kinds of assignments.
The goals of the these various assignments are to 1) reinforce your
understanding of the nature and function of satire, 2) engage your ability to think
critically and creatively, 3) develop your skills of inquiry and analysis, 4) introduce
you to analyzing, discussing, and writing philosophical and ethical arguments
under the analytic tradition, and 5) teach you how to create your very own piece
of satire.
1. Office Hours Visit: Your first assignment will be to schedule an initial 10minute visit with your course instructor at their office hours location. This
visit, which will take place during the first two weeks of class will be an
informal conversation primarily designed to allow one-on-one face time
between you and the instructor, a sort of get-to-know-you. This visit will
also serve to let you know where office hours will be held, and to allow you





to ask any questions you have regarding the course.

Analytical Responses: Beginning in the third week, a short (roughly 300400 word) analytical response will be due each week. Basically, I'd like
you to write out your thoughts on the readings for that specific week.
These weekly responses do not have to be formerly crafted essays, but
they should read coherently. The writing should not be merely a synopsis
(although you may want to include a couple of sentences regarding the
author's main arguments, if that helps to place your thoughts in context).
The piece, instead, should summarize your own thoughts on the readings
and topics that you would like to discuss during class. What interests you
about the readings? Where in the author's arguments are assumptions
being made? What areas of the readings do you not fully understand?
What questions do you hope to bring up during class? For further
suggestions on how to approach the readings and these responses,
consult the Guidelines for Doing Philosophy document (see attached).
Class Presentation: To develop your skills of inquiry and analysis, you
will sign up to co-lead part of the class discussion with one other student.
You will prepare a brief (10-minute) timed presentation on the assigned
reading and 2-3 specific discussion questions that will engage the class in
an in-depth discussion. Presentations and discussion questions will be
due by 5:00pm via e-mail the day before you are scheduled to present.
You must also accompany your submission with a paragraph that explains
in detail your individual contribution to the project.
Critical Satirical Reviews: You won't really know satire until you go out
and experience it for yourself. Throughout the semester, you are required
to attend/view/read three outside satirical works of your choosing that will
serve as the source of three 1-2 page critical satirical reviews. In these
reviews, you will analytically deconstruct the satirical work and identify: 1)
who is the satire directed toward (i.e. who is the target)? 2) Why is this
particular work considered satire? 3) Was satire utilized effectively? 4)
What was your overall reaction to the piece? 5) How might this satirical
work have been improved? These reviews are expected to be more
polished and less stream of consciousness than the weekly analytical
writing assignments, and are due on the last day of class.
Analytic Paper: To help you focus your thinking and develop your
analytic writing, a 7-page double-spaced analytic paper will be due toward
the end of the semester. For this paper, you will analyze one conceptual
or ethical dimension of satire we have covered in class. Paper topics must
be submitted to the instructor and approved by midterm. For topic ideas,
look to your analytic writing assignments to see what interests you, and
take advantage of office hours. The paper process will include the
submission of a rough draft, two independent peer-reviews from your
colleagues, and a final draft. Consult the Style Guide (see attached) for
paper formatting and Draft Essay and Revision Guidelines for general
writing and revision guidelines (see attached). On the day rough drafts are
due, you will bring in (3) printed copies of your paper: 1 copy to turn into
your instructor, and 2 copies to distribute to your peers for peer review.
Your final grade will take into account your incorporation of comments
from your peers.

6. Peer Reviews: To further develop your analytic writing ability, you will be
responsible for reviewing two 7-page essays of your classmates following
the Peer Review Guidelines (see attached). On the day rough drafts are
due, you will collect two essays. You will return the following week with the
two student essays and printed copies of your peer reviews to give to your
7. Final Creative Project: To put your new-found knowledge of satire along
with your ability to think critically and creatively to the test, you will have
the opportunity to create your own original satirical work. You will choose
among one or more of the various modes of satire that interests you (film,
theatrical performance, editorial piece, collection of political cartoons,
song, etc.) and the specific target of which you are satirizing. While you
may utilize the assistance of other students in your final project if need be
(for a theatrical performance, film, etc.) each student must create and turn
in their own final project this is not group work. You are encouraged to
begin thinking about this final creative project early on in the semester,
and to write your ideas down as they emerge. Six weeks before final
projects are due, you will come to class with 3 fleshed-out ideas you will
workshop with your peers. Once you have selected an idea for your final
project, you will submit your idea and have it approved by the instructor.
Upon approval, you will schedule a time to present and/or perform your
satirical piece during the last week of class. Your final project will be due
on the day and time you are schedule to present. I welcome your creative
approaches, and looks forward to see what our class develops.
Points Breakdown of Assignments
Office Hours Visit
Analytical Responses (13)
Class Presentation
Critical Satirical Reviews (3)
Analytic Paper
Peer Reviews (2)
Final Project

25 Points
195 Points
150 Points
150 Points
200 Points
50 Points
230 Points
1000 Points TOTAL

Weekly Syllabus and Readings

Required Texts:
1. Amarasingam, Amarnath, ed. The Stewart/Colbert effect: essays on
the real impacts of fake news. McFarland, 2011.
2. Feinberg, Leonard. Introduction to Satire. Pilgrims Process, Inc., 2008
3. Morreall, John. Comic relief: A comprehensive philosophy of humor.
John Wiley and Sons, 2009. (Available Online via IU Library)

4. The Book of Mormon Script Book: The Complete Book and Lyrics of
the Broadway Musical
To allow access to a wide variety of resources yet keep textbook costs low, the
majority of readings will be available online in scanned pdf format via Oncourse,
or through the IU Librarys electronic resources collection. If you like, feel free to
purchase printed versions of the books or other texts.
Course Structure:
The course is broken into four parts for the purpose of focusing discussion. Each
part specifically contributes yet overlaps with the others to offer a broad account
of 1) What satire is (its nature) and 2) How it works (its function). Part One
outlines the characteristics of satire. Part Two examines history and content of
satiric literature in primary topics and communities. Part Three explains the
general theories, structure, and creative processes of satire. Part Four discusses
the psychological, philosophical, and social dimensions of satire, and its

PART 1: The Characteristics of Satire

Week 1: Introduction to the Nature of Satire
We will begin by introducing the course and its aims, followed by a survey of the
numerous attempts by literary theorists and philosophers to characterize and
classify the invariant qualities that make satire what it is.

Which qualities have been proposed as being necessary and sufficient for
Why is no satisfactory definition possible?
How does satire use reason to create unreason; logic to create illogic?
Why is satire so appealing in comparison to other literary forms?
Does satire rely on norms?
Is satire necessary?

Feinberg, Chapter 1: Characteristics of Satire
You must schedule your initial office hours visit with me, as well as sign up to colead part of a future class discussion by the end of the first week.
Week 2: Satire and its Critics
Following our introduction to the course, we will continue our exploration of the
nature of satire with readings dealing with critical theory of satire representative

of many of the ideas and problems connected with the subject.

How do the various satirical critics and their philosophy of satire compare
with one another? How do they differ?
By general agreement, instruction and pleasure are accepted as the two
aims of literature. Instruction, or the moral improvement of humanity and
human society, is often regarded as the more important aim of satire.
Among these theorists do you find any who speaks for pleasure? Can you
think of any satire, past or present that seems to have pleasure as its main
objective? Do you prefer to read for pleasure or instructionor both?
Is humor essential to satire?
Manifestly satire has been written in many different formsverse, story,
play, etc. Does the form in any way limit or determine the meaning? How?
Frye defines satire as a kind of writing that breaks up things which
impede the free movement of society. Does he imply, then, that satire is
revolutionary? May it not be conservative, or even reactionary?
How are changes in satirists related to the changes and ethos of a
particular society?

Allen & Stephens, Part 1: Theory in Satire: Theory & Practice, pp. 1-47
In-class Activity: Having considered these definitions and theories, write your
own definition of satire in a one-page essay.

PART 2: The History and Content of Satire

Week 3: History of Satire 1: Horation and Juvenalian Satire
This week, we transition from our philosophical investigation of the nature of
satire into its history. We will explore the historical development of satire starting
with The Satire of the Trades in Ancient Egypt at the beginning of the 2 nd
millennium BCE up through Johnathan Swifts A Modest Proposal in the Age of
Enlightenment in the 18th Century. We will focus our historical analysis through
particular works representative of the two primary modes: Horation and
Juvenalian satire.

Vice (or evil) and folly are, broadly speaking, the two main objects of
satirical attack. Which of these was the main concern of Horace? Of
Horace says he writes without malice, and several other writers, including
Swift, favor the laugh instead of the lash. Yet one does not laugh in
reading Gullivers Travels; and Juvenal boils with anger and indignation.
Which of the two attitudes do you consider more likely to be successful as
a corrective of evil or folly?

Is it important to be aware of possible differences between the actual

personality of the writer and the personality of his satirist? Does the satirist
have an obligation to make clear the distinction between the two? Why?
What was the satire of the Medieval Islamic World? How did this satire
tackle such serious topics now known as anthropology, sociology, and
Frye says The novelist sees evil and folly as social diseases, but the
Mineppean satirist sees them as diseases of the intellect. What is
Mineppean satire? How does it overlap with Juvenal satire?
How did the social support of rationality and rise of partisan politics during
the Age of Enlightenment contribute to the switch from Horatian, soft,
pseudo-satire, to biting Juvenal satire?

Johnathan Swifts A Modest Proposal (Oncourse)
Geoffrey Chaucers The Nuns Priests Tale (Oncourse)
Horaces Town Mouse and Country Mouse (Oncourse)
Voltaires Memnon the Philosopher (Oncourse)
Film, Gullivers Travels (In class)
You will submit your first of thirteen analytical responses written in response to
the readings. Responses should be submitted via Oncourse under the
Assignments tab.
Week 4: History of Satire II: Cultural Paradigms, Public Spheres, and
Narrative Forms
We continue our historical analysis of the development of satire to answer the
question of what happened to satire after its period of prominence in the early
eighteenth century, and to address a series of philosophical questions that follow
from the first concerning the history of relations between genres.

How and why does a genre that has been dominant, such as satire, fade
in importance and give way to other genres?
What elements do new, or newly significant, genres share with the earlier
one; in what ways do they challenge, disavow, suppress, but also
appropriate features of the prevailing form?
Can shifts in the appeal and usefulness of genres be related to large shifts
in paradigms of cultural understanding?
Is it possible to construct a genealogy of genres?
According to Foucault, how do epistemological paradigms shape and limit
how the world is understood and what can count as true in different
How did women use satire to access a cultural public sphere that
produced narratives of love, domesticity, and the moral dilemmas of non-

aristocratic individuals? Did the satiric elements tend to be stronger and to

persist longer in womens writings?
Introduction in Frank Palmeris Satire, History, Novel (Oncourse)
Chapter 4: Satire, Conjectual History and the Bildungsroman, 1720-1795 in
Frank Palmeris Satire, History, Novel (Oncourse)
Analytical Response 2 DUE.
Week 5: The Material of Satire
Having grounded ourselves in the nature and history of satire, we now turn
toward the content of satirical literature. We examine the primary sources from
which satire is primarily drawn, the various images of the world satirists put forth,
and particular materials that are especially suitable for satiric treatment.

Why does the violation of social norms arouse the satirists attack? Do
moral norms have the same motivational effects?
Does satire flourish in an unstable, changing society or in a secure,
homogenous one?
Some scholars think censorship stimulates a satirist to imaginative
heights, while others believe that a free society nourishes satire. Do
satirists work best in a regimented (censored) society or free society?
Is great satire produced when the writer is in tune with his times, as Taine
and Plekhanov insisted, or by writers who are hostile to their environment,
such as Aristophanes, Juvenal, Oscar Wild, and Evelyn Waugh?
What do the range of world images, e.g. the puppet show, pseudo utopia,
menagerie, madhouse, a throng of fools and rascals all share in common?
What is the importance surrounding the co-occurring concepts of a
mixture of satirical material with nonsatiric content and of satiric devices
with nonsatiric techniques?

Feinberg, Chapter 2
Feinberg, Chapter 3
Feinberg, Chapter 4
Analytical Response 3 DUE.
Week 6: Satire of Religion

We begin to focus our analysis of satiric content on one of the most consistently
targeted topics: Religious institutions.

Is religious satire simply mans attempt of playing God?

Why is religious satire also considered philosophical satire? What do
religion and philosophy have in common? What is the particular
philosophy posited by The Book of Mormon?
Is it wrong to criticize certain religions using satire? Should sincerely held
religious views not be held to ridicule?
How has atheism been satirized as being its own religious institution?
Should Life of Brian be considered blasphemy? Why does the satirical
mode and tone of Life of Brian continue to be debated among critics?
Because the satirist is likely to be a skeptic, does this mean she suspects
that all values are relative? Are values relative?

The Book of Mormon Script Book: The Complete Book and Lyrics of the
Broadway Musical
Video: Monty Pythons Life of Brian (In-class)
Analytical Response 4 DUE.
Week 7: Satire of Sex
We shift focus our analysis of the content of satire to the second most-common
and all-too-popular topic: Sex

How is satire used to create awareness of gender roles and relations?

How does the film The Graduate seem to suggest that relationships
should be based on equality, and not sex?
Is satire received differently between sexes?
Do most satirical works accurately reflect the sex and gender roles of the
time they are written?
Is there some intrinsic value in reducing vulgarity in satire? Or can
vulgarity add to the satirists intended effect on the audience?
What motivates individual who discuss sexual topics to use satire as
opposed to other literary forms? Can satire do more work with sexual
topics than other forms?

Selections from Ovid: The Art of Love (Oncourse)
Video: The Graduate (Link available online via Oncourse)

Analytical Response 5 DUE.

Week 8: Political Satire
We continue our analysis of the content of satire to political satire, focusing
primarily on both pragmatic and theoretical considerations of contemporary
political satire.

How have The Daily Show and The Colbert Report impacted political
perceptions, engagement, and trust?
What are the effects of contemporary political satire on viewers cynicism,
civic participation, and perceived efficacy?
Is contemporary political satire breeding cynicism and hurting political
discourse, or is it a powerful force holding politicians and media outlets
How does political satire teach, influence, and motivate political
information processing and political participation?
Does failed satire on The Daily Show and The Colbert Report have unique
How does political satire affect and sometimes mitigate conflict during

Is Fake News the Real News? The Significance of Stewart and Colbert for
Democratic Discourse, Politics, and Policy in The Stewart/Colbert Effect
The Science of Satire: The Daily Show and The Colbert Report as Sources of
Public Attention to Science and the Environment in The Stewart/Colbert Effect
Jon Stewart a Heretic? Surely You Jest: Political Participation and Discussion
Among Viewers of Late-Night Comedy Programming in The Stewart/Colbert
Analytical Response 6 DUE.
In-Class Activity: In small groups of four, prepare a brief (1-2 minute) satirical
scene mirroring the form of either The Daily Show or The Colbert Report and
perform it in front of the class.
Week 9: Satire across Cultures
Much of satire is specific to language and culture. A subversive force, satire often
relates to culturally specific configurations of authority. The history, customs,
language, and gestures of a given culture be it a national, ethnic, diasporic,
gendered identity create rules of engagement for producing and
understanding satire. We extend our analysis of the content of satire to
investigate the nature and function of satire across a diverse grouping of

How did Commedia allItaliana (Italian-style comedy, 1950s-1970s) serve

as a crucial means for exploring via satire the social and political upheaval
unfolding throughout Italy during this historical period?
Why was exporting the show Everybody Loves Raymond to Russia such
a difficult feat for the producers? What satirized values of the American
family are not shared with that of a Russian family?
What are the ways that satire is taken up in Spain to combat strong
censorship from the early stages of the dictatorship to the contemporary
How does satire, in the case of censorship in Spain, express something
How can satire at once become a place of resistance and respite for a
citizenship embedded in silence?
Should the proliferation of political satire in post-Mao China via the internet
be seen as a sign of new political openness, or a part of everyday forms
of resistance, or a surrogate venue through which Chinese people could
air political dissent under authoritarian rule and even subject the Chinese
Party-State to public scrutiny?

Hennessey, A Cinematic Premonition of Disorder: Social and Political Satire in
Bellocchio's (Oncourse)
Fry, Spanish humor: A hypotheory, a report on initiation of research (Oncourse)
Rofel, Yearnings: Televisual love and melodramatic politics in contemporary
China. (Oncourse)
Film: Exporting Raymond (Link available via Oncourse)
Analytical Response 7 DUE.

PART 3: General Theories, Structure, and the Creative Process

Week 10: The Techniques of Satire
Having surveyed a broad array of satire, we now turn to the general theory of
satiric techniques. We will learn how the basic techniques of humor are used for
satiric purposes, and analyze the structure of satiric friction.

How should the satirist give the impression of infallibility while constantly
pointing out the fallibility of others?
Do you agree with the claim that satire achieves its effect less by what it
says than by how it says it?
How does dramatic irony stem not from a cosmic source (whim or
indifference in heaven) but from social causes, the absurdities and
contradictions of man-made customs?

What are the technical differences between romantic and realistic satire?
Why is realistic satire more difficult to write?
Is humor always, as Kant suggests, the transformation of a strained
expectation into nothing?
What is Reductio ad absurdum? How do all satiric utopias make use of
this technique?

Feinberg, Chapter 5: Theory of Satiric Technique
Feinberg, Chapter 6: The Technique of Incongruity
Feinberg, Chapter 7: The Technique of Surprise
Feinberg, Chapter 8: The Technique of Pretense
Analytical Response 8 DUE.
Homework for Next Week: Bring in 3 fleshed-out ideas for final projects you will
workshop with your peers.
Week 11: The Creative Process
Following an exhaustive introduction to the satirical techniques available to our
disposal, we will now focus on the creative process behind producing original
satirical works. The primarily goal of this week is to adequately prepare you to
begin working on your final project.

How does a satirist use the traditional devices of storytelling in a special

way, adapting them freely to his specific purposes in each satire?
Are satiric characters types or individuals? Is it better strategy to
deliberately choose stereotypes instead of realistic characters when
writing satire?
How does the editorial staff of the Onion decide write their satire? How
does their process differ from that of other satirical writers?
Is the Onions process of selecting headlines a rational, objective
process? How do the writers know that a certain satirical piece will work?
What is The New Yorker creative process for coming up with satirical
What various exercises can one do alone or with a group to facilitate the
generation of satirical ideas?

Feinberg, Chapter 11: Beams and Studs
The Onion: An Interview with Americas Finest News Source (Oncourse)
Robert Mankoff, Cartoon Editor, New Yorker: The New Yorkers Cartoon
Process: Creating, Editing, Publishing, and Monetizing Cartoon Humor

Analytical Response 9 DUE.
Final Project Ideas DUE.
In-Class Activity: Workshop Final Project Ideas with Peers
In-Class Assignment: Submit one entry to this weeks New Yorker Cartoon
Caption Contest (Link available via Oncourse).
Community Involvement Public Lecture (Optional):
This week, a special public lecture open to all Collins residents at large will be
given by select members of the editorial staff of the satirical news publication,
The Onion. The lecture will focus on the editorial staffs systematic creative
process of generating high-quality satire.

PART 4: Psychology, Ethics, and Philosophy of Satire

Week 12: The Psychology of Satire
We shift our focus from the creation of satire to the psychology of satire.
Primarily, we will be investigating 1) the psychology behind the satirist
themselves, and 2) the central psychological theories of humor and how they
relate to satire.

Can Walkers account of resentment be used to illuminate the nature and

function of satire?
If satire is motivated by, expresses, provokes resentments in others,
leading to positive effects within individuals and societies: is having
resentments a moral virtue?
What are the three jointly necessary and sufficient conditions for humor as
suggested by the Benign Violation Theory of Humor? Can these
conditions be applied to all modes of satire?
How does satire provide a healthy and socially beneficial way to react to
hypothetical threats, remote concerns, minor setbacks, social faux pas,
cultural misunderstandings, and other benign violations people encounter
on a regular basis?
What are the four primary functions of humor in communication?
Does satire allow for the foraging of a sense of belonging or fellowship
where one has not been felt before?

Morreall, Chapter 1: The Traditional Rejection of Humor and Traditional Theories
of Humor
Zautra, Resentment in Satire (Oncourse)
McGraw et al., Benign Violations Making Immoral Behavior Funny (Oncourse)
Meyer, Humor as a Double-Edged Sword: Four functions of humor in

communication (Oncourse)
Analytical Response 10 DUE.
Scheduling of Final Project Presentation DUE.
In-Class Activity: Working in groups of three, you and your group will research,
and give a short (2-3 minute) presentation on one of ten psychological theories of
humor as it relates to satire.
Week 12: Humor and Satire as Aesthetic Experience
A central idea in aesthetics is aesthetic experience. While philosophers have
characterized it in different ways, there is general agreement that it is a kind of
appreciation in which we perceive or contemplate something for the satisfaction
of the experience itself, not in order to achieve something else. Starting in the
18th century, the lack of self-concern and personal advantage in aesthetic
experience was called disinterestedness. We will analyze this philosophical
idea of attending to something for the pleasure of the experience rather than to
gain knowledge or reach a goal as it applies to the experience of satirical

What are the six aesthetic modes, and which seems the most similar to
What distinguishes aesthetic from non-aesthetic satire?
Does satire have its own peculiar logic? Does this peculiar logical form
add to the aesthetic experience?
What makes satire funny?
Is spontaneous satire more enjoyable than prepared satire?
How do amusement and emotions involve different orientations to
experience? How might they alter ones perception of a satirical work?

Mead, The Nature of Aesthetic Experience (Oncourse)
Morreall, Chapter 4: The Mona Lisa Smile: The Aesthetics of Humor
Analytical Response 11 DUE.
Week 13: Laughing at the Wrong Time: The Negative Ethics of Satire
In discussing the traditional accounts of humor as they relate to satire, we
touched on several moral objections to it. This week, we will examine those
objections systematically, suggesting a way to handle the morality of satire.

What are the eight common moral objections to humor in satire? What are
their shortcomings?
Does the practical moral disengagement of satire, as we have seen, help
to explain the opposition between amusement and negative emotions?
Does the claim, Its only a joke excuse stereotyping in ethnic satire? Why
Is satire a moral virtue?
What are the main harmful effects of satire?
When is it wrong to laugh?

Morreall, Chapter 5: Laughing at the Wrong Time: The Negative Ethics of Humor
Gaut, Just joking: the ethics and aesthetics of humor (Oncourse)
Smuts, The Ethics of Humor: Can Your Sense of Humor be Wrong? (Oncourse)
Shabbir & Thwaites, The use of humor to mask deceptive advertising: its no
laughing matter (Oncourse)
Analytical Response 12 DUE.
Week 14: Having a Good Laugh: The Positive Ethics of Satire
While the moral disengagement in satire can be harmful in several ways, as
weve seen, it can also be beneficial. This week, we will further examine satires
benefits, to build a positive ethics of satire.

What are the intellectual virtues fostered by satire? What are the moral
What were the three main benefits of satire during the Holocaust?
Should satire be uncensored?
Does satire involve a form of self-transcendence?
Should we satirize and laugh at ourselves? In what way(s)?
When is it right to laugh?

Morreall, Chapter 6: Having a Good Laugh: The Positive Ethics of Humor
Peifer, Can We Be Funny? The Social Responsibility of Political Humor
Analytical Response 13 DUE.
Week 15: Satire and the Existentialists: Philosophy and Satire

During this course, we have a looked at numerous assessments of satire by

traditional philosophers, psychologist, historians, and literary critics, many
continually pointing toward the benefits of satire. In our final week of readings, we
will bring together philosophy and the benefits of satire, evaluating the argument
that from the beginning of philosophy, its practitioner should have appreciated
the value of satire, since most of its benefits are benefits of philosophy, too.

Was Socrates the first stand-up comedian?

How do both satire and philosophy work against the natural human
predisposition to indoctrination?
How did Kierkegaard and Nietzsche demonstrate considerable
appreciation of the connections between satire and philosophy?
If it is permissible to take one step back and notice the incongruity in our
lives, why would it somehow be inauthentic to take a second step back
and laugh at that incongruity, especially if it is some permanent feature of
the human condition about which nothing can be done?
Does satire foster wisdom?
In cultivating our sense of humor and appreciation of satire, do we develop
our knowledge of how to live well and cope with the central problems and
avoid the predicament(s) human beings find themselves in?

Morreall, Chapter 7: Homo Sapiens and Homo Ridens: Philosophy and Comedy
Morreall, Chapter 8: The Glass is Half-Empty and Half-Full: Comic Wisdom
No homework: Continue working on Final Projects
Week 16: Final Project Presentations
We conclude the course with in-class presentations and/or performances of your
final projects. There will be no readings for this week.

Who is the satire directed toward (i.e. who is the target)?

Why is this particular students work considered satire?
Was satire utilized effectively?
What was your overall reaction to the piece?
How might this satirical work be improved?


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