Von Reinhart, Walter [faculty advisor, Department of Languages]




satire; humor; literature


Satire is an art form that has existed throughout recorded history. Examples of satirical work exist from long before the genre had even been defined, and this powerful tool for social critique is alive and well today, perhaps even more prevalent than ever. The use of absurdity and often humor to demonstrate the problems with a particular human behavior, vice, or social issue makes satire engaging and persuasive in a way that a direct statement of the facts is not. These qualities make satire the perfect tool for advocating social and political change in times of unrest. In recent years, satire has become prolific in all types of media. With such sensitive subjects as war, terrorism, security and civil rights issues a part of daily conversation, criticism in satirical form has found its way into literature, television, movies, and even comic strips, and has found a huge following in the American public. With my honors project I seek to examine this powerful artistic form throughout history and in modern times. My goal is to trace the essence of satire through some of its most famous historical examples to understand what effects it has had, how it has changed over time, and what key elements of it remain the same to this day. I will also add my own creative satirical work, including both literary and visual examples, which demonstrate my understanding of satire as an art form and express some of my own ideas about contemporary society.