Abstract

Abstract:

It is a commonplace of literary history that satire vanishes in the middle of the eighteenth century. It is clear, however, that written and especially visual satire witnessed massive growth in the final decades of the century and throughout the Romantic era. My goal is to explain this simultaneous contraction and expansion of the satiric marketplace. Rather than dying, I argue, satire began to migrate to visual media, and especially caricature, after mid-century. The reason for this migration was the shifting procedural norms of libel law itself. Over the first half of the century, the courts developed procedures for delimiting verbal ambiguity in trials for libel that made the publication of written satire perilous. These same procedures were largely useless, however, in the prosecution of visual materials, which made at best sparing use of words—they were, as I put it, "deverbalized"—and were therefore not subject to the same rulings and interpretive procedures.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-315X
Print ISSN
0013-2586
Pages
pp. 305-336
Launched on MUSE
2018-03-23
Open Access
No
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