Instructor: Regina Popper ENG. 228



INSTRUCTOR'S PHONE: 595-2263 (or call me at home: 962-1287)

Email me at


TEXT: Nicholas Bakalar, editor. American Satire: An Anthology of Writings from Colonial Times to the Present. New York: Meridian/Penquin Books, 1997.

A dictionary, such as the Merriam-Webster or New World

A pocket folder to store handouts

Loose leaf paper

Ink pen



This class will explore the use of creative, well-written humor and satire to attack human vice and folly. After a brief overview of early Greek and British satire, the course will focus on early American masters such as Ben Franklin and Mark Twain, more recent writers such as Kurt Vonnegut and Art Buchwald, and contemporary wits such as P.J. O'Rourke and Molly Ivins.

Besides enjoying the reading, students will analyze several types of satire and humor and discover the creative tools used, such as irony, sarcasm, understatement and more. That knowledge will make the essays, stories, poems and other writings a much richer experience. In addition, students will examine music lyrics, film, video, political cartoons, advertising and web sites that use satire and humor.



1. Class participation, Read/Respond homework, quizzes, and in-class writings will count 40% of your grade.

2. One two page typed paper on

3. One 3-4 page typed paper on a comic writer or comedian that incorporates some

research will count 20%.

4. An oral report on the same topic as in #3 will count

5. Attendance will count 10%. For a class that meets three times a week, the attendance grade will be calculated as follows:

1-2 absences = A

3 absences = B

4-5 absences = C

6 absences = D

7 or more = F


The attendance score is meant to reward good attendance and discourage spotty attendance. However, if your grade is teetering between a B and a C, for example, the 10% may make a difference. I am reasonable and understand true emergencies. Contact me promptly to discuss.

It is important that you call the instructor if you are absent more than one class.

Special consideration will be given for prolonged illness or absence for campus sports team events, but both require a written excuse from a doctor or coach.

LATE ASSIGNMENT RULE: All assignments are due in the beginning of class otherwise they are considered late. One or two late assignments will not affect your grade and will allow for illness or emergencies.

HOMEWORK: The standard ratio is two hours of homework for each hour in a college class, so plan to spend about two hours preparing for each class.

Follow the class reading list which is part of this syllabus. Note that Read/Respond sheets are due for each story. Key Ideas sheets will be due early in the course for background/introduction readings. For one story per week, you will write a Journal entry (usually written during classtime) on one of the week's stories. During class, you will work as part of a team to write a three-page paper analyzing a short story; this paper will be due before mid-term. By the end of the semester, you will complete a 3-5 page paper on a novel (selected from a list to be provided). Oral reports on your selected novel will be spread throughout the last weeks of the semester.

COMPUTER LABS: Even if you have a typewriter at home, you are strongly urged to discover the time-saving process of using a computer to write your essays. Revisions become a breeze! The Computer Lab in the Communications Building (Room l32), has Macintosh computers for you to use in writing assignments. Also try the library CAVE (near the circulation desk) or the labs in the Engineering or Business buildings. Save your work on an inexpensive disk that may be purchased at the Bookstore.

READING & STUDY SKILLS CENTER and WRITING CENTER: Both centers are located in Communications with tutors ready to help you. The Writing Center's tutors will assist you with any part of the writing process. The tutors can give specific assistance with grammar problems and can also help in planning and organizing a piece of writing, but the work must be your own.

EXPECTATIONS: I want to help you complete this course, but you must do your part. You should attend class regularly and do all of the assigned work. All writing should be your own, not copied (plagiarized) or done by another person. Plagiarism is a serious problem and will warrant an F grade. Faculty and staff are here to help you learn. Do yourself a favor and don't hesitate to ask questions or get help if you have any problem. Writing Center tutors and campus counselors are understanding and helpful.

COURSE WITHDRAWAL: If you run into a crisis or emergency (health or otherwise), please call me. Don't just disappear because the class and I will worry about you! Remember that the last day to officially withdraw is___. By withdrawing, you will avoid getting an F on your record that will be included in your grade point average.

STUDENTS WITH SPECIAL NEEDS: Please inform me as soon as possible of any special needs you may have so that I may make your learning experience more comfortable and successful. If you need special testing arrangements, note taking assistance, seating close to the front of class, additional testing time, or other accommodations because of a documented disability, please feel free to discuss this with me privately. The college's Access Office will assist students with such needs. Please call 513-4551.


Week 1 and 2 BACKGROUND

Intro to class

Define types of satire and humor

Dave Barry "reporting" on skaters Tonya Harding & Nancy Kerrigan

Horace and Juvenal (Roman satirists) sample readings

British masters John Dryden, Jonathan Swift

Identify literary tools (handout) and apply to select readings, news clippings, video and film excerpts


Weeks 3, 4, 5,6 POLITICS

Jonathan Swift "A Modest Proposal"

Ben Franklin "On Sending Felons to America" and "Rules by Which a Great

Empire May Be Reduced to a Small One"

Will Rogers "A Day at the Republican Convention" and "At the Democratic Convention"

Molly Ivins "H. Ross Went Seven Bubbles Off Plumb" and "New Heights of Piffle"

Chris Rock (video)

Saturday Night Live (TV)

Political cartoons

PAPER DUE (Essay Comparing/Contrasting two works)


Week 7, 8, 9 SOCIETY AND RELATIONSHIPS (National & Global)

The Graduate (film excerpt)

Fanny Fern "Have We Any Men Among Us?" and "Tom Pax's Conjugal

Soliloquy" and "Chapter for Parents"

Langston Hughes ' three poems

Woody Allen (excerpt)

Jerry Seinfeld

Bill Cosby audio

Chris Rock video

P.J. O'Rourke "The Innocents Abroad" Topic: international humor- a sampling via internet & interviews

ORAL REPORT (on humor in different countries or business fields)


Weeks 10, 11, 12, 13 WAR

Ben Franklin "The Sale of the Hessians"

Stephen Crane "War is Kind" (poem)

Mark Twain "The War Prayer"

Art Buchwald "Pictures from Vietnam" and "Telling the Truth"

Russell Baker "Universal Military Motion"

Joseph Heller Catch-22 excerpt (novel & film)

Dr. Strangelove (film excerpt)

Arlo Guthrie "Alice's Restaurant" (audio)

Editorial cartoons

Begin DOCUMENTED PAPER: due15th week



Folk Humor

Mark Twain "Advice to Youth"

Dorothy Parker "Far From Well," "Comment," and "One Perfect Rose"