Is satire a dying art, and do we need it?
A course on satire, its power and limitations, from Classical Rome, through medieval Italy, to Elizabethan theatre and 19th-20th century American cartoonists. Serving as both a critique of social norms and the oppression of minorities (anti-women, anti-Jews, etc.), satire has been one of the most practiced and effective languages in Western culture. By ridiculing ideas, habits or specific individuals, satire challenges and constantly reshapes moral, legal as well as linguistic boundaries. We will discuss various definitions of the genre, with readings on the theory, functions and limitations of satire, focusing on the intellectual debate and juridical responses (censorship, criminal law, libel writs, etc.) that have accompanied satirical expressions across the centuries. Satirical artifacts examined during the classes include poems, novels, theatrical plays, defamatory paintings and sketches, with the participation of contemporary satirists, cartoonists, comedians and judges from around the world.