Beyond Literary Landscapes—Satire

From my early beginnings as a young introvert, the public library has always been a bit of a refuge.  Years later, not much has changed, albeit with an additional affinity for endless hours spent scouring second-hand bookstores to add to my ever-growing “to-read” pile.

From one bookworm to another, this column will be underscoring and outlining various literary genres, authors, and recent reads and can serve as an introduction for those unfamiliar with these works, as a refresher for long-time aficionados, and maybe as an inspiration for readers to share their own suggested topics.  Do you have a topic that you would like covered in this column?  Feel free to contact me for an interview and a feature in an upcoming column.


This week’s column serves as an introduction to the genre of satire, a reminder of some of the genre’s classics, and as an inspiration for further reading.

Satire can be defined a literary or dramatic genre, “in which human or individual vices, follies, abuses, or shortcomings are held up to censure by means of ridicule, derision, burlesque, irony, parody, caricature, or other methods, sometimes with an intent to inspire social reform.”  In addition to literature and drama, Satire can be found in motion pictures, television, and visual arts.

Satire can be divided into three main categories, namely the sympathetic Horatian Satire, the harsher Juvenalian Satire, and the chaotic Menippean Satire.  The main characteristics of satire include irony, wit, and exaggeration.

Examples of well-known authors who write in the Satire genre include Jonathan Swift, Miguel de Cervantes, Mikhail Bulgakov, and Joseph Heller.

Other examples include Joseph Conrad, Kurt Vonnegut, William Shakespeare, and Oscar Wilde.


Some well-known works include Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift, Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes, Catch 22 by Joseph Heller, and The Master and Margarita and Heart of a Dog by Mikhail Bulgakov.


These works are set throughout the former Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, Spain, as well as fictional locales.


Many of these novels take place during the 15, 16, 20, and 21-centuries.


These novels may be of interest for readers who would like to laugh, as well as learn about ways authors have sought to inspire ethical reform in society.


AU’s wide range of diverse courses make it easy to study this topic in depth.  Courses related to satire are available in a variety of disciplines, including one’s that may fit into your Degree Works.  (Always check with an AU counsellor to see if these particular courses fulfill your personal graduation requirements!)

AU students interested in learning more about this topic may enroll in ENGL 307: A History of Drama – Part II: Modernist Theatre, a senior-level, three-credit course, “which examines the beginnings of Western modernism in plays of the nineteenth and twentieth century from Europe, Britain, the United States, and Canada.”  (Note that this course requires ENGL 211: Prose Forms and ENGL 212:  Poetry and Plays as prerequisites.)

In addition, students may consider ENGL 324: Shakespeare I, a senior-level, three-credit course, which serves as “an introduction to the age of Shakespeare and his plays,” as well as ENGL 325: Shakespeare II, a senior-level, three-credit course, which serves as “an introduction to the study of the plays and sonnets of William Shakespeare, focusing on his later works (tragedies, tragicomedies, and romances).”  (Note that ENGL 324 requires ENGL 211, ENGL 212, or ENGL 325 as prerequisites, while ENGL 325 requires ENGL 211, ENGL 212, or ENGL 324.)  Happy reading!