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International Journal of Humor Research

Editor-in-Chief: Ford, Thomas E.

IMPACT FACTOR 2017: 0.660
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CiteScore 2017: 1.27

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Volume 25, Issue 4


Satire and definition

Conal Condren,
Published Online: 2012-11-08 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/humor-2012-0019


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.

Keywords: definition; dictionaries; genre; history; humor; Menippean; morality; parody; satire

About the article

Centre for the History of European Discourses: University of Queensland, Australia 4072

Published Online: 2012-11-08

Published in Print: 2012-11-14

Citation Information: Humor, Volume 25, Issue 4, Pages 375–399, ISSN (Online) 1613-3722, ISSN (Print) 0933-1719, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/humor-2012-0019.

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©[2012] by Walter de Gruyter Berlin Boston.Get Permission

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