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date: 16 September 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Satire has its objects: the people or practices towards which it is directed. But it also has plenty of objects, in the word’s materialist sense: things which are complexly related to satire’s rhetorical work. This chapter considers the double alignment of the goals of satire with its stuff, its objects with its objects, by looking at its strategies of defining and defending community boundaries. In the first place, satire creates and enforces social distinctions through rhetorical strategies of abjection or objectification. People are compared to dirt, disease, and disorder—thereby marking a primal distinction between social in- and out-groups. But recent work reminds us of a second, powerful force at work in early modern satire; this is the sympathetic response to bodies in pain. Far from merely enforcing systems of difference, satire offers repeated, compensatory opportunities for identification, which is where much of the transformative potential of the genre lies. Examples are drawn from Dryden, Pope, Addison, and especially Swift.

Keywords: satire, social difference, Jonathan Swift, cognitive studies, sympathy, riddles, periphrasis, community formation, John Dryden, Joseph Addison

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