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Satire & Irony

ENGL 049.001
MWF 12

Both a literary form with a history stretching back to classical antiquity and a fundamental tendency in human expression, satire flourished in England in the early eighteenth century, notably in the works of Jonathan Swift and Alexander Pope. Beginning with a careful examination of Swift's Gulliver's Travels, a work that exemplifies the recurrent themes and characteristic techniques of satire, we'll read selections from eighteenth-century satire (mostly from Swift and Pope) and then move on to consider books (novels, for the most part) from nineteenth- and twentieth-century English and American literature that are satiric in distinct and different ways. One major organizing idea in our discussions will be the ways in which traditional satiric attitudes are modified by novelistic form. In addition to Swift and Pope, our readings will be drawn from the following authors: John Gay, Henry Fielding, Thomas Love Peacock, Lewis Carroll, Charles Dickens, Mark Twain, Evelyn Waugh, Vladimir Nabokov, Nathanael West, Thomas Pynchon, Stanley Elkin, Kurt Vonnegut, and Don DeLillo. There will be two shorter papers (5-7 pages and a final paper of 10-15 pages. Occasional quizzes are also a possibility.