The making of a satire: implications of ancient philosophies in contemporary fiction
University of Surrey
This creative writing PhD will investigate satiric techniques discussed by ancient and pre-modern satirists, and ask if elements of satire recognised by Aristotle and Socrates – and expanded upon by Horace and Juvenal – are relevant in contemporary writing. This study will occur in two parts: a novel and a critical commentary. The critical investigation will survey the satiric form, then scrutinise the act of creating a satiric novel. Robert Phiddian in ‘Satire and the limits of literary theories’ (2013) argues that satire is a ‘rhetorical strategy [….] that seeks wittily to provoke an emotional and intellectual reaction’ and is ‘a mode rather than a genre’. Aware of the irony in using a PhD to textually subvert institutionalism, the novel portion of the thesis will satirise British academia within a ridged crime fiction framework. This novel, coupled with Phiddians’s interpretation of satire as rhetoric, leads to a question which will be addressed in the PhD, ‘Can a text be both satire and crime fiction, or need it be a satirical crime fiction?’ Recent discourse on satire has focused on media and politics such as RM Rosen’s ‘Efficacy and meaning in ancient and modern political satire’ (2012). These discussions are relevant to this project, as many of the principles used by broadcasters and screenwriters are also employed by textual satirists, thus furthering the argument that satire is a work of rhetoric. Rosen argues that while satirists ‘claim to speak “from the heart”’, a satire is crafter [….] no matter how much the satirist insists that it is not’. This supports the idea that satirist is constructing an argument in the same manner as the critic, thus approving the idea of the self-critiquing satirist for which this PhD is based.