Wednesday 16 May 2018

‘Satire: Deaths, Births, Legacies’: A Forthcoming Conference Exploring the Many Deaths of Satire

‘Satire: Deaths, Births, Legacies’: A Forthcoming Conference Exploring the Many Deaths of Satire

‘So—satire is no more—I feel it die’
Alexander Pope, ‘Epilogue to the Satires’ (1738)

2018 marks 350 years since the birth of Alexander Pope: poet, essayist and editor of The Dunciad, a landmark work of eighteenth-century satire which has proven both implacably canonical and endlessly controversial. Three hundred years after the birth of Britain’s most notorious satirist, it is now  common-place to observe that satire is dead. 
In 2017, celebrated satirist Armando Iannucci cautioned against the dangers of making the  American President a figure of fun, whilst also lamenting that the state of British politics was now ‘too silly’ to satirise. Journalist Emma Burnwell has this year concluded that populist leaders have won power across the globe by assuming the extremist identities that satire once imagined as absurd for comic effect. In a social media environment that makes satire personally and professionally dangerous for the purveyors and targets of satire alike, we are left to wonder if this new era of post-truth must also be one of post-satire. 
Proclamations of the death of satire are not new. Since as early as the eighteenth century, commentators have been asking questions about the health and validity of the genre: Can satire ever change that which it attacks, or does it simply reinforce the views of its readers? Is satire ever ethically sound? Does satire serve a legitimate social function other than entertainment? Indeed, the cases for and against satirical forms have proven as persistent as the form itself. So too have proclamations of its demise: Pope himself playfully suggested that satire was on its death bed as early as 1738. 
On Saturday 2 June 2018, we will be hosting a conference at York St John University, demonstrating that the question of satire and its contemporary relevance is both an urgent one, and one with a long and fascinating historical context. 
Satire: Deaths, Births, Legacies will examine satire, parody, pastiche, and caricature, commenting on the broader social function of satire, variously confirming, complicating, or condemning narratives of its decline. It will examine moments in British literary history, from the eighteenth century though to the present day, when satire has been celebrated as successful or condemned as ineffective, unnecessary or obsolete. 
The conference will feature a Keynote lecture on Jonathan Swift and Satire from Dr Daniel Cook (University and Dundee), and a wonderfully diverse range of papers on everything from eighteenth-century satirical prints to early modern funeral sermons, and from hospital magazines during the Great War to the representation of branding in Charlie Brooker’s Black Mirror. It will both celebrate and interrogate the legacies of eighteenth-century satire, proving that reports of satire’s death have been exaggerated. Please do join us for a conference you won’t soon forget!
View the full programme: 
Register for the Conference:  

Follow us on Twitter: @SatireNoMore

1 comment:

Regencyresearcher said...

Byron's Don Juan is equal to the Dunciad in some minds and better than it in others,than The late Georgian and Regency caricaturists were visual satirists. I think political cartoons still do this. Satire is hard to produce as it can come across as just making fun of something rather than making a point of criticism.