Satire makes the powerful feel weak and the weak feel powerful. It points out what we dare not think or know. By showing how absurd power can be, satire suggests that our world can be otherwise. American satire skewers distinctions of race, gender, and class as self-contradictory, yet undeniably real. Satire can be poignant, too: As we all know, laughter sometimes ends in tears. In this course, we read major American satirists writing since the Civil War, including María Amparo Ruiz de Burton, Mark Twain, Anita Loos, George Schuyler, Dorothy Parker, Paul Beatty, and Ling Ma. Students will learn about these authors’ texts and their contexts, focusing on how form and content conspire to produce satirical effects. Satire exemplifies both literary writing and the pleasures of reading. It can persuade, provoke, and unsettle us. Víktor Shklovsky famously argues that literature “defamiliarizes” us with the world. Perhaps no genre is more committed to Shklovsky’s sense of defamiliarization than satire.