Philip Baruth “A Brief Series of Impolitic Remarks, Potentially Culminating in Summary Dismissal from the University (Or, On Satire)”

Professor of English, Philip Baruth

Satire is always hungry for pieties: commonplaces we learn and repeat without ever asking how, public figures we esteem without ever quite understanding why. For this reason, there is a certain rhetorical violence to satire that is at once its greatest draw, and its greatest drawback. Because he or she makes sport of powerful people and closely-held ideas, those that society has done its best to sanctify, the satirist is generally held in low esteem — and eventually fired or, in some cultures, jailed and then killed. This is especially true of a satirist working in a very small New England state. In this talk, Professor Baruth will review some of the things he has written which have caused deep offense in the past, and make headway on provoking fresh offense for the future.

The “Dean’s Lecture Series” was established in 1991 as a way to recognize and honor colleagues in the College of Arts and Sciences who have consistently demonstrated the ability to translate their professional knowledge and skill into exciting classroom experiences for their students — faculty who meet the challenge of being both excellent teachers and highly respected professionals in their own discipline. The Award is a celebration of the unusually high quality of our faculty and has become an important and treasured event each semester.

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