International Journal of Humor Research
Editor-in-Chief: Ford, Thomas E.
4 Issues per year
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This paper explores some of the difficulties involved in defining satire.
Neither the formal characteristics of satire nor its informing purposes, including its variable associations with humour and the provocation of amusement allow for a unifying definition over the long term. It considers a range of approaches to and types of definition and takes as a principle example the notion of Menippean satire. It argues that a characterisation in terms of family resemblance is more helpful for a strictly historical understanding than formal definitions and that it is misleading to take satire as a genre, let along a literary one. Throughout it also suggests that the case of satire tells us something about definition and the often naïve expectations of what definitions can establish.