I was glad to see many familiar faces at the NYU Writing Women symposium a few weeks ago. This upcoming May 9th, I’ll be hosting an event for the CUNY Graduate Center’s Eighteenth-Century Interdisciplinary Group and I hope to see you there.
Matt Williams, who recently defended his CUNY dissertation on eighteenth-century satire, will be giving a talk entitled “‘Subjects, Tales, Stories, and Characters of Invention, after the Manner of Lucian, who Copied from Varro’: Delarivier Manley, Menippean Satire, and the Rise of the Novel.”
We’ll gather at 2pm in the Eighteenth-Century Reading Room (C196.05) on the lower floor of the Mina Rees Library (365 Fifth Ave.), partake in refreshments, listen to Matt’s presentation, and enjoy plenty of discussion afterwards. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to come, as I’ll need to give your name to the library security so they’ll be expecting you.
As usual, satire is quicker to identify and exploit the conventions and styles of new genres than any other literary form. Where Jonathan Swift once emptied out and reanimated genres like the projector’s pamphlet or the periodical-pastoral poem, some other Jon Swift has mastered the art of reviewing books he hasn’t read for Amazon.com. Another good example is the fake-blog, like the “fake Steve Jobs,” who probably writes better and more amusing prose than the real Steve Jobs. Now we have an entire constellation of fake blogs, courtesy of NewsGroper, who feature a little troop of insiders dishing on celebrities with blogs like Fake McCain and Fake Al Sharpton (which sounded authentic enough to fool MSNBC). And one of my favorite examples of this kind of fake first person writing remains Jesus’ General.
One of the keys to this kind of online writing is the strategic mystery surrounding its sources: the satire always works better, I think, when there is genuine uncertainty regarding its origins and therefore its purposes.