Kyle Dickson's Archive

Satire Colloquium: Gulliver to Colbert in 4 weeks

by   |  12.01.09  |  Announcement

“Satire is a sort of glass, wherein beholders do generally
discover everybody’s face but their own.”
– Jonathan Swift

Over its long history, satire has been the chosen form of the poet, philosopher, dramatist, and wit, the weapon of polemicists arguing for political, social, and often religious change. Dr. Kyle Dickson is a student of satire in general, the poets and dramatists of Britain’s golden age of satire in particular (Swift, Pope, Gay), and one evening at a restaurant in North Oxford was publicly accused of the gratuitous use of irony. Course “readings” will span the proverbial gamut from Aristophanes to The Onion, with an emphasis on the uses (and abuses) of religious satire since the Reformation. In light of Juvenal’s time-honored claim that “It is difficult not to write satire,” we will conclude by composing original satires of our own.

A few examples from Satire Project

by   |  10.10.09  |  Announcement

Just wanted to round out our semester with recordings of some strong work turned in this semester. They represent a wide spectrum of satire and parody, incisive critiques and playful performances. Thanks to everyone who submitted work and joined in the conversation this semester.

Coffee Addict Manifesto –  Kelsey Williamson

Hamlet in Space –  David McMichael

A Tale of Two Universities –  Sara Morris

The Team –  Erin Halstead

Trying your hand at satire

by   |  09.13.09  |  Announcement

If you’re looking for someone to blame for our final project, it may as well be the ancient Roman satirist Juvenal. He’s the one I quoted in the class blurb who said living in times like ours who would not write satire. Given our discussion of the explosion of dissenting voices and forms on the internet, I’d say today is another such time.Picture 2

Before you get too far into developing your final project, please read the assignment carefully. I’ll keep an eye on this thread, so once you’ve had a chance to read the assignment feel free to post questions or comments.

I look forward to seeing and hearing what you all come up with.

Satire Colloquium Project

Sample Projects from 2007

Colbert on Campus interview

by   |  09.12.09  |  Media

A one-hour interview we ran across in class today. Feel free to comment below if you end up watching sections you want to recommend to others (include how many minutes in you find them):

Colbert at Kennedy School of Government

Colbert offers one popular example of the ironic persona seen regularly on his Comedy Central show and at the 2006 White House Correspondent’s Dinner.

The Word: Truthiness – Colbert Report

Ten Commandments – Colbert Report

Colbert at White House Correspondent’s Dinner

Satire: A Critical Reintroduction

by   |  09.11.09  |  Assignment

Several passages from Dustin Griffin’s landmark study. . .

“According to consensus, satire is a highly rhetorical and moral art. A work of satire is designed to attack vice or folly. To this end it uses wit or ridicule. Like polemical rhetoric, it seeks to persuade an audience that something or someone is reprehensible or ridiculous; unlike pure rhetoric, it engages in exaggeration and some sort of fiction. But satire does not forsake the “real world” entirely. Its victims come from that world, and it is this fact (together with a darker or sharper tone) that separates satire from pure comedy. Finally, satire usually proceeds by means of clear reference to some moral standards or purposes” (Griffin 1).

Dryden’s Discourse, was “codified into typically Augustan binary formulas: Horace versus Juvenal, comic verus tragic satire, specific versus general satire, raillery versus chastisement, vice versus folly. . . John Dennis is characteristic: ‘Horace argues, insinuates, engages, rallies, smiles, Juvenal exclaims, apostrophizes, exaggerates, lashes, stabs” (Griffin 24).

“As a committed Christian moralist, Erasmus prepares the reader to make choices and to take actions . . . [like More] “a process of educative testing, variously playful or hostile, whereby the moral intelligence of the public was to be trained by being subjected to attempts to undermine or confuse it. . . . Inquiry for its own sake has no value. . . Erasmus seeks not to leave his reader in suspended judgment, in a state of musing doubt and irresolution, but to urge him toward a better choosing” Griffin 56)

The goal of the theorist of satire (as I see it) is not to arrive at elegant and irrefutable definitions of satire as a genre but to enable readers of satire to become more attentive, to enable them to seen an interplay of impulses and effects in a text that—whether written now or five hundred years ago—may or may not have been called “satire” on the title page. . . . Satire is in my view rather an “open” than a “closed” form, both in its formal features (particularly in its reluctance to conclude) and in its more general rhetorical and moral features, in its frequent preference for inquiry, provocation, or playfulness rather than assertion and conclusiveness. (Griffin 186)

Tempus Fugit

by   |  09.06.09  |  Announcement

Tempus Fugit. Yes, as Horace would say, time is passing and the final few days between now and our colloquium weekend are wasting quickly away. I hope you’re all well into Gulliver and have had a chance to look over the syllabus.

I bring up the syllabus because I’m afraid several of you are already running behind on weekly preparations for our class this coming weekend. If this sound like you, I’d call you to carpe diem, or to repent, or stand and be counted, or whichever impassioned appeal encourages you to get started on the preparatory assignments that stand between you and successful completion of our class.

Please refer to the course syllabus and schedule to make sure you’re caught up. Remember, objects on the syllabus are closer than they appear.


Week 2 updates

by   |  08.30.09  |  Assignment

I hope you procured your copy of Gulliver and have already landed on the island of Lilliput. *If you haven’t been able to find a copy of the text, we need to talk immediately.

Still haven’t seen any Class Introductions so I’d would like to see those ASAP, but this week we’re turning to the first journal assignments. For help getting started, please read the following overviews and make your first posts THIS WEEK.

Satire Journal Assignments

Defining Satire Thread

Satire Sighting Thread

I have added a few more links to the Media Archive, but would welcome your own examples in the journal assignments.

For those who missed it last April, one final addition is the online edition of the Pessimist from last spring, so feel free to weigh in on how these articles fare in your satire definitions as well.

ACU Pessimist, 4/1/09

Welcome Back

by   |  08.23.09  |  Announcement

I hope all of you arrived safely back in Abilene. I think I’m finished with our course site (for now). Come on in and look around. The Syllabus and the Schedule will probably be the best place to begin since they should clarify how the other pieces will fit into our work together.

TEXTBOOK: Probably the most important first step is to find a copy of Gulliver’s Travels. We’ll mainly be reading Book 1 and 4, so if you still have an anthology from Major British Writers, you probably have the book already. Otherwise, the Campus Store has a dozen copies for my ENGL 495, so feel free to pick up one of those. Our colloquium will meet the end of the third week of school, so we’ve got a great deal to do in the next few weeks. Talk to me immediately if you have textbook troubles, and I’ll see if I can find an extra copy.

Sometime this week, come on into the class blog and look around a little. Before we begin Gulliver, I’m asking you to post a short introduction to the Class Introductions discussion thread in the sidebar. You’ll respond to several questions. No one will be marking your responses up with a red pen (we’ll save that for later!), but this will give me a chance to begin to connect names and faces.


*Before you post, I’m asking you to Add Your Own Avatar. This profile photo will appear on class blogs, so please choose a mugshot that helps us (mainly me) connect names with faces. (For information about gravatars, see ACU Blogs.)

I’ve always been intrigued by the idea of “laughing until it hurts,” so this semester perhaps we can make some sense of the curious territory between pleasure and pain, between comedy and critique. Thanks for being a part of the conversation.

Breaking News timeline

by   |  08.22.09  |  Media

If you’ve looked at the schedule for our next several weeks, you’ve seen the first short assignment before you begin reading is to spend a few minutes reviewing the Breaking News timeline. This interactive timeline will introduce you to figures and events in the news during the “long eighteenth century,” roughly 1660-1800 and the golden age of English satire. Taking notes as you read about the different monarchs and religious groups may help you keep the important names and dates straight. Though this isn’t a history class, satire is a contextual art form so some attention now to key dates and figures should help you make connections later.

Breaking News Intro

Once you’ve viewed the Breaking News introductory film, explore the timeline itself on Dipity.

Breaking New timeline

Breaking News transcript

Kyle Dickson's Comment Archive

  1. Kyle Dickson on Music
    1:14 pm, 08.27.09

    Feel free to leave comments here with reflections about the links above.

    You can contribute your own examples in the Satire Sightings assignment.

  2. Kyle Dickson on Movies
    1:13 pm, 08.27.09

    Feel free to leave comments here with reflections about the links above.

    You can contribute your own examples in the Satire Sightings assignment.

  3. Kyle Dickson on Class Commons
    12:27 pm, 08.24.09

    Okay, I’ll go first. What exactly is the Class Commons?

    The main idea is to give students a place to talk about anything related to the class. . . so, let me know what questions you have and I’ll try to get to them quickly.