Satire (SCANS Fall 2020)


ZOOM link - Studio (Hope United Church), Tuesday: 10:00 - 11:30 am, Oct. 13 to Nov. 17

Instructor: David McNeil


Phone: 902 441-8087 IM E-Mail:

Satire is a sort of glass, wherein beholders do generally discover everybody's face but their own.
Jonathan Swift


Swift's satiric definition of satire is one of many mirror-images that surface in discussions of the genre. In this class, we elucidate the dynamics of satiric humour in a wide range of works from antiquity to the present: literary texts, cartoons, songs, sketches, monologues, dialogues. Early Scottish "flyting" (i.e., insulting), eighteenth-century graphic satire, Punch Magazine, standup comedy, and local cartoonists will be just some of the things we'll examine. Folly and vice are traditionally considered to be the targets of satire, and the art of satire is to make fun of them. So the goal of this class is to admire the art and have a lot of laughs. We'll even make fun of ourselves! Seeing so much corruption and idiocy in ancient Rome, Juvenal said that: "It is hard not to write Satire." Many believe the same about our contemporary world (if you think otherwise, just SEARCH "people doing dumb things" on YouTube and see for yourself).


Oct. 13: Introductions (satire as art, forms of, relation to the curse, lethal aspect, and politics)
Link to a mp4 recording of class 1 of 6
Link to Transcript Summary of Q&A

Oct. 20: The Classics (Juvenal, Lucian, Erasmus, Cervantes, Swift)
A Modest Proposal, Ed. Jack Lynch, online version
Link to a mp4 recording of class 2 of 6
Link to Transcript Summary of Q&A

Oct. 27: Graphic Satire 1 (Hogarth, Rowlandson, Gillray)
Wikipedia Entry for William Hogarth, an excellent place to begin exploring his work; click on the links/images for detailed resolutions and information
Excellent website on James Gillray and his work
Thomas Rowlandson: The Art of the Print Catalogue
Academic lecture on Thomas Rowlandson
YouTube recording of class 3 of 6
Link to Transcript Summary of Q&A

Nov. 3: Graphic Satire 2 (Punch Magazine, 20th-C, contemp.)
I must confess there is simply too much online information regarding graphic satire that I cannot list just a few sites. I do encourage you to search out your own favorites, browse the "Electronic Resources" below, and send me ( the links!
Woody Allen's dialogue: God and Isaac (PDF file) very funny!
YouTube recording of class 4 of 6
Link to Transcript Summary of Q&A

Nov. 10: Satiric Performances 1 (aesop, "characters," dialogues, moral tales, novels)
Browse the following if you are so inclined:
Aesop's Books, scroll down to #93 "The Fox and the Grapes"
Lucian, Dialogues of the Dead,
scroll down to #9 "Menippus and Tiresias", #12 "Philip and Alexander" and #14 "Hermes and Charon"
Lucian, Dialogues of the Gods,
scroll down to #6 "Eros and Zeus"
Woody Allen's dialogue between God and Isaac, PDF Download
Chaucer, The Pardoner's Tale with Prologue, modern English, [scroll down to line 41 to get to the beginning of the "Prologue"]
Rabelais, Gargantua and Pantagruel, trans. Urquhart and Motteaux, illus. Dore, excerpt, Book I, Chapters 3-4 (How Gargantua was carried for 11 months inside his Mother's Belly and How Gargamelle, when great with Gargantua, ate great quantities of Tripe) and 25-29 (battle between the cake-bakers of Lerne and Grandgousier's shepherds) - recommended Book 1 download zipped illustrated HTML(2.3MB)
George Orwell's Animal Farm
YouTube recording of class 5 of 6
Link to Transcript Summary of Q&A

Nov. 17: Satiric Performances 2 (The Beggar's Opera, television hosts, stand-up, film)
There are a few productions (or excerpts therefrom) of The Beggar's Opera available on YouTube:
The Beggar's Opera, Benjamin Britten (1948)
The Beggar's Opera, Peter Brook (1953 Film),excerpts only
The Beggar's Opera, Brown Univeristy (2016), Act 1, scroll down the right side for Acts 2 and 3
Patricia Routledge's performance from The Beggar's Opera, Jonathan Miller / BBC (1983 Film)
You can browse Electronic Resources (ER) below for "television" links for late-night, comedy channel, and stand-up performances.
YouTube recording of class 6 of 6
Link to Transcript Summary of Q&A

Electronic Resources

SCANS link to ZOOM Help Guides

SCANS link to Course Materials

Difficile est saturam non scribere.

Contact the Instructor (David McNeil) at

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Return to David McNeil Homepage.

Updated: Nov. 18, 2020