Guías Académicas




Curso 2024/2025

1. Datos de la asignatura

(Fecha última modificación: 02-06-24 9:35)
Optativa 3º y 4º
Segundo Semestre
Filología Inglesa
Plataforma Virtual

Campus Virtual de la Universidad de Salamanca

Datos del profesorado

María Mercedes Peñalba García
Fac. Filología
Filología Inglesa
Filología Inglesa
1.9 Dpto. Filología Inglesa. Edificio Placentinos
Horario de tutorías
By appointment
923 294500 Ext. 1754

2. Recomendaciones previas


- Effective command of written and spoken English, together with an appropriate range of vocabulary (C1).

- Regular class attendance (at least 90% of the total course hours). It is simply not possible to make up the lost experience of multiple weeks, worth of work and class discussion, in a seminar course like this one.

- Be able to enhance critical thinking, oral communication, and writing skills through literary analysis.

3. Objetivos

Course Outline

Literature has never separated itself from humor—even when it wants to be taken most seriously. Through discussion and writing, you will examine the techniques through which humor and satire criticize human nature, analyze society, and express differing worldviews. This module also focuses on the wider cultural, spatial, historical, philosophical, and ecological implications of the utopian and the dystopian in a range of literary and cultural texts. Across the semester, we will consider a range of dystopian narratives that address different cultural anxieties associated with modernity. We will also ask how satirical humor and irony continue to pose fundamental challenges for interpretation—problems that arise when we take humor seriously—and how we might distinguish satire from postmodern parody and pastiche.

Learning Objectives

1. Identify the most interesting and challenging questions–both theoretical and practical–in the ethics of humor.

2. Critique the uses of humor that marginalize, oppress, or do harm.

3. Reflect upon the functions and value of humor and laughter in human life, including your own.

4. Understand satire in its historical, cultural, and political contexts.  

5. Analyze satire in other media, including film, television, and advertisements.

6. Explore the significance of utopia / dystopia to debates about imperialism, race, gender, ecology, and capitalist modernity.

7. Employ acquired knowledge and skills to research, and understand literary scholarship that bears upon ideas of humor / satire and utopia/ dystopia in a wider cultural and historical context.

8. Use appropriate terminology and concepts to discuss literary works as an individual or as part of a team.

9. Formulate clear, incisive, thought-provoking questions about ideas presented in both literary and academic texts as well as films.

10. Gain skills in critical thinking, reading, and oral argumentation through the synthesis of primary source documents and secondary readings in class discussion.

4. Competencias a adquirir | Resultados de Aprendizaje

Básicas / Generales | Conocimientos.

Generic learning outcomes

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to:

CG1. Comprehend the underlying social, moral, and/or political ideas conveyed by literary texts / films and engage with those ideas critically.

CG2. Reflect on your own position as a reader in relation to current affairs and public debate.

CG3. Apply close reading techniques to a range of literary texts, and make complex comparisons between them.

CG4. Critically interrogate the historical and cultural specificity of perceived divisions such as ‘high’ and ‘low’ culture.

CG5. Think about comedy and satire as vehicles for social and political commentary and change

CG6. Learn about our own responses to comedy and satire and what that reaction says about our own tastes and convictions.

CG7. Enhance our understanding of humor, both as an interaction between individuals and as a device used in comedy and satire.

Específicas | Habilidades.

Specific learning outcomes

After successful completion of the course, you will be able to:

CE1. Experience analyzing comic and satiric themes comparatively: cross-culturally, formally, and/or historically.

CE2. Take satire as an occasion to sharpen your critical reasoning, writing, and speaking skills.

CE3. Debate big issues of public and global significance with analytical rigor.

CE4. Identify specific techniques authors use in satire or specific examples within a text that create the satirical work through modern examples.

CE5. Use the appropriate literary terminology to explain how various writers use their respective genres and literary forms to produce comic and satiric effects.

CE6. Offer insightful and nuanced analyses of complex questions involving environmental, political, historical and societal concerns in relation to dystopian narratives.

CE7. Understand literary scholarship that bears upon ideas of utopia/ dystopia in a wider cultural and historical context.

Transversales | Competencias.

Transversal skills

On completing this module, you will be able to:

CT1. Discuss, evaluate, and creatively deploy critical perspectives.

CT2. Construct original, articulate, and well-substantiated arguments. Advocate a specific position responsibly. Effectively communicate through a range of different means.

CT3. Conduct library and web-based research and document sources (MLA 9th edition).

CT4. Revise your own writing. Produce a clean, efficient writing style and adapt it to various rhetorical situations. Edit and proofread formal prose.

CT5. Gauge the value of different strategies for argumentation, including the use of counter-arguments.

CT6. Avoid plagiarism and understand why it is unacceptable.

CT7. Manage your time and workload effectively.

5. Contenidos


Synopsis of the curriculum

Course description

Part I.  Much is suggested by the terms comedy and humour: some of you might think of stand-up comedy or slapstick movies, while others might think of ethnic jokes or dirty jokes; still others might think of biting social commentary or parody; others of us still might think of the ancient division of drama into comedy and tragedy. In this unit, we will watch classic comedy films (slapstick), read plays, and listen to stand-up while considering contemporary theories of humor, laughter, and comedy. Some questions to consider: how does the joke create a community of laughers or exclude a community being laughed at? What assumptions have to be shared in order for the joke to be funny? Is humor conservative (in that it maintains the status quo), subversive, or something else entirely?


Part II. Satire is so prevalent in pop culture that most of us are already very familiar with it. In this section, we will discuss how writers have used satire and humor to address issues around politics and power, inequality and class, gender and marriage – as well as to entertain readers and audiences (e.g. satire in drama, in novels and short stories, in film and other media). We will also examine “The Daily Show Effect” of current affairs satire (comedy news programs) and its appeal to younger audiences in a more engaging way than conventional, straight-faced journalism. These shows belong to a genre that uniquely blends elements of journalism with those of comedy to deliver the news with a humorous twist.

Across the module, we will also discuss how satire often goes hand in hand with dystopian fiction.


Part III. In this unit, you are invited to consider the importance of utopia and dystopia to debates about modernity, gender, identity, capitalism, imperialism, climate change, reproductive rights, terrorism, artificial intelligence, and state violence. This class will examine a variety of historical and current “what if?” thought experiments (speculative fiction), including classics and current bestsellers. You will explore the specific conditions that inspired these dystopias, the general warnings inherent in them, and the broad trends in dystopias over time.


Part IV. We will also ask how satirical humor and irony continue to pose fundamental challenges for interpretation—problems that arise when we take humor seriously—and how we might distinguish satire from postmodern parody and pastiche. The focus in the last section will be mainly on the concepts relating to metafictional features of novels, such as the use of self-reflexivity and self-consciousness, intertextuality, etc.

6. Metodologías Docentes

Teaching and Learning Methods

Although there will be occasional mini-lectures outlining, for example, the historical, sociocultural, and literary background of the material on which we focus, for the most part this course is a reading- and discussion-based course. Therefore, you will be expected and required to come to each class having read/viewed, thought about, taken notes on, and prepared questions and/or comments relating to the assigned material. Each class will then proceed according to your preparation as we discuss, debate, and (hopefully) clarify our thoughts and ideas.

Learning methods will include debating, working in small groups, formulating questions as well as answers, writing in class as well as independently. Course work includes announced and unannounced quizzes on assigned readings and films viewed outside the classroom, short assigned essays comparing or contrasting works on similar themes, and examining what professional critics say about works read for class.

This module includes a Learning Support Hour. This hour will include (but not be limited to) group work supervisions, assignment preparation and consultations, feedback and feed-forward sessions.

There is no required textbook for this class. Readings are listed by week and topic on the Readings and Assignments page. The length and number of readings will vary. It is best to read them early and not wait until the night before they are scheduled to be discussed.

7. Distribución de las Metodologías Docentes

8. Recursos

Libros de consulta para el alumno.

Course materials

This course focuses on primary-source material and not on secondary-source material (i.e., introductory, critical, and/or analytical texts). Nevertheless, occasionally I may assign some secondary-source readings, which will be announced in class and/or via Studium.

General Resources – Critical Texts (Indicative secondary reading)

Anthony, Ashley G., C. Clark Triplett, and Ashley G. Anthony, editors. Worlds Gone Awry: Essays on Dystopian Fiction. McFarland, 2018.

Billig, Michael. Laughter and Ridicule. Towards a Social Critique of Humour. MacMillan, 2005.

Boyle, Kirk. The Rhetoric of Humor: A Bedford Spotlight Reader. Bedford, Freeman & Worth, 2016.

Chritchley, Simon. On Humor. Routledge, 2002.

Colebrook, Claire. Irony. Routledge, 2004.

Day, Amber, Satire and Dissent. Indiana UP, 2011.

Dentith, Simon. Parody. Routledge, 2000.

Gordin, Michael, Helen Tilley and Gyan Prakash, editors. Utopia/Dystopia: Conditions of Historical Possibility. Princeton University Press, 2010.

Hutcheon, Linda. A Theory of Parody. The Teachings of Twentieth-Century Art Forms. Routledge, 2000.

Stock, Adam. Modern Dystopian Fiction and Political Thought: Narratives of World Politics. Taylor & Francis, 2018.

Zupančič, Alenka. The Odd One In: On Comedy. MIT Press, 2008.

Otras referencias bibliográficas, electrónicas o cualquier otro tipo de recurso.

The final reading list will be announced on Studium before the start of semester.

All texts for the course will be provided for you via the course website, mainly in PDF format. Extra-literary materials (i.e., artwork, film and television clips, etc.) will also be provided for you by way of hyperlinks to external sources.

9. Evaluación

Criterios de evaluación.

Summative Assessment

This is how I will formally assess what you have learned in this module. Grades are determined by weighted percentages as outlined above, NOT total points or a simple average.

Breakdown - Main assessment methods  
In-class presentation activity   25%
Midterm exam   25%
Final exam   50%

Sistemas de evaluación.

You should strive to:

1. demonstrate that you’ve completed the assigned readings (comprehension);

2. provide a thoughtful analysis of the assigned readings (critical thinking); and,

3. engage with the ideas/issues raised in the assigned readings (independent thought).

Recomendaciones para la evaluación.

In order for this course to be successful, it is imperative that you take the time to do a careful reading of course material. You cannot memorize the material of this course, nor will merely “knowing” the material be sufficient. The course focuses more on critical engagement, exploration, and communication related to complex issues than on mastering a body of material.

10. Organización docente semanal