As we are bombarded daily by ever-coarsening political discourse, it is tempting to long for a gentler, perhaps more civil, age. Imagining a past similar to the worlds of Jane Austen novels, we sometimes project our wishes onto the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. This talk will suggest that what we are experiencing in America today is part of a long tradition. In fact, many of the satiric texts of the early-modern period, including familiar works such as “Gulliver’s Travels,” not only used the same techniques as do modern commentators, but actually used them more viciously.
The Early-Modern Origins of Today’s Political Satire