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Seeing satire in the eighteenth century

Vol. No.
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Volume editor(s)
Volume editor(s): 
Elizabeth C. Mansfield and Kelly Malone
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Publication Date: 
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About the Book

About the Book: 

A moment in history when verbal satire, caricature, and comic performance exerted unprecedented influence on society, the Enlightenment sustained a complex, though now practically invisible, culture of visual humor. In Seeing satire in the eighteenth century contributors recapture the unique energy of comic images in the works of key artists and authors whose satirical intentions have been obscured by time.

From a decoding of Charles-Germain de Saint-Aubin’s Livre de caricatures as a titillating jibe at royal and courtly figures, a reinterpretation of the man’s muff as an emblem of foreignness, foppishness and impotence, a reappraisal of F. X. Messerschmidt’s sculpted heads as comic critiques of Lavater’s theories of physiognomy, to the press denigration of William Wilberforce’s abolitionist efforts, visual satire is shown to extend to all areas of society and culture across Europe and North America. By analysing the hidden meaning of these key works, contributors reveal how visual comedy both mediates and intensifies more serious social critique. The power of satire’s appeal to the eye was as clearly understood, and as widely exploited in the Enlightenment as it is today.

Includes over 80 illustrations.

Elizabeth C. Mansfield and Kelly Malone, Introduction: seeing satire in the Age of Reason

Emmanuel Schwartz, 1. Satire unmasked by reading

Eric Rosenberg, 2. The impossibility of painting: the satiric inevitability of John Singleton Copley’s Boy with a squirrel

Julie-Anne Plax, 3. Watteau’s witticisms: visual humor and sociability

Emily Richardson, 4. ‘Tu n’as pas tout vü !’: seeing satire in the Saint-Aubin Livre de caricatures

Melissa Lee Hyde, 5. Needling: embroidery and satire in the hands of Charles-Germain de Saint-Aubin

Kimberly Chrisman-Campbell, 6. ‘He is not dressed without a muff’: muffs, masculinity, and la mode in English satire

Trevor Burnard, 7. ‘A compound mongrel mixture’: racially coded humor, satire, and the denigration of white Creoles in the British Empire 1784-1834

Reva Wolf, 8. Seeing satire in the peepshow

Steven Minuk, 9. Swift’s satire of vision

Michael Yonan, 10. Messerschmidt, the Hogarth of sculpture

Katherine Mannheimer, 11. Anatomizing print’s perils: Augustan satire’s textual bodies

Marcus C. Levitt, 12. ‘Women’s wiles’ in Mikhail Chulkov’s The Comely cook

List of illustrations