Mild Satire in the Poetry of Victorian Era Punch

Activity: Talk or presentationTalk or presentation at a conference


"Satirical Poetry in Punch, or The London Charivari as a Crossing of Textual Practices"

Anthony Manu and Sofie Vandepitte approach the British satirical and humorous magazine Punch, or the London Charivari not only as a crossing of their respective studies, but also of a variety of textual practices, namely humorous poetry and satire.
The poetry that featured in Punch during the Victorian era is often marked by a mildly critical form of satire focused on wit that was typical for the period (Gray 1966: 147-148; Palmeri 2004). Anthony Manu investigates how a literary analyst can account for the specificities of this mild satire in poetry. Firstly, based on existing stylistic and literary approaches to satire and on insights on humorous texts from the fields of humour theory (Attardo 2001) and cognitive linguistics (Giora et al. 2015), he argues that an analysis of the semantic and rhetorical strategies used to create humour in a mildly satirical Victorian poem can allow one to better understand the critical message of the text. Secondly, by combining insights on satire with insights from the field of humour theory, he introduces a literary model for the analysis of mildly satirical humour in poetry, which he demonstrates on the poem “The Jelly-Fish and the Philanthropist" (1886) by Victorian poet May Kendall that was published in Punch.
From the mid-nineteenth century onwards, British seaside tourism boomed in popularity, with seaside resorts in England, Cornwall, and Wales attracting many thousands of tourists each year (Bailey 1978; Walton 1983). As one of the most prolific manifestations of the new Victorian leisure industry, seaside tourism became a fixture of the periodical press, not only appearing in women’s and sports and entertainment magazines but also in satirical periodicals such as Punch, Fun, Judy; or the London Serio-Comic Journal, and Moonshine. Surprisingly, however, the presence of the seaside resort in the periodical press remains virtually ignored in scholarship. In her research, Sofie Vandepitte attempts to address this gap in scholarship by analysing the representation of the Victorian seaside resort in a range of satirical periodicals published between 1841 and 1914. For this presentation, she will build on Anthony Manu’s findings has developed to analyse a selection of “seaside poems” published in Punch. In so doing, she will demonstrate how mild satire was used to construct a specific image of Victorian seaside tourism in nineteenth-century periodical poetry.
Period14 Nov 2022
Event titleCLIC-dag 2022: Crossings: Concept, Discourse, Practice
Event typeConference
LocationElsene;, Belgium
Degree of RecognitionInternational