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Granfalloon: Celebrating the Life and Work of Kurt Vonnegut

A research guide started in 2022, Vonnegut's centenary year. Work on this guide continues.


The 2024 Granfalloon bookshelf features Kurt Vonnegut's Jailbird (1979), considered to be his "Watergate novel." Through the work's protagonist, Walter F. Starbuck, Vonnegut discusses the history of the American labor movement, corporate America, McCarthyism, Richard Nixon, and Watergate. Jailbird is Vonnegut's most direct engagement with political satire, though Cat's Cradle and "Harrison Bergeron" work with this mode as well.

According to Emmett Stinson, "satire is a mode, rather than a genre; it attacks historically specific targets who are real; it is an intentional and purposeful literary form; its targets deserve ridicule on the basis of their behavior; and it is both humorous and critical by its nature." For as long as governments and politics have existed, so too has political satire. From Greek and Roman traditions to the Victorian Era and into the Yale and Chicago School of Satire Critics, there is a long and storied tradition of the satirical mode in literature.

This page contextualizes political satire through three sections:

  1. A critical introduction to (political) satire featuring bibliographies, syllabi, scholarly and academic books
  2. Books on political humor with a focus on political comedy in our contemporary moment
  3. Examples of political satire in literature along with texts that fictionalized political scandals, like Jailbird.

Source: Stinson, E.  (2019, August 28). Satire. Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Literature.

A Critical Introduction to (Political) Satire

In this box, you will find syllabi, bibliographies, scholarly articles, and books on (political) satire, Jailbird, and more.



Scholarly Articles

Political Humor & Comedy

Political Scandal in Literature