Rhetoric, Humor, and the Public Sphere


Rhetoric, Humor, and the Public Sphere: From Socrates to Stephen Colbert Hardcover – 4 Nov 2016
by Elizabeth Benacka (Author)

Rhetoric, Humor, and the Public Sphere: From Socrates to Stephen Colbert investigates classical and contemporary understandings of satire, parody, and irony, and how these genres function within a deliberative democracy. Elizabeth Benacka examines the rhetorical history, theorization, and practice of humor spanning from ancient Greece and Rome to the contemporary United States. In particular, this book focuses on the contemporary work of Stephen Colbert and his parody of a conservative media pundit, analyzing how his humor took place in front of an uninitiated audience and ridiculed a variety of problems and controversies threatening American democracy. Ultimately, Benacka emphasizes the importance of humor as a discourse capable of calling forth a group of engaged citizens and a source of civic education in contemporary society.

Product details
Hardcover: 178 pages
Publisher: Lexington Books (4 Nov. 2016)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1498519865
ISBN-13: 978-1498519861
Product Dimensions: 15.9 x 1.8 x 23.7 cm
Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item

In Rhetoric, Humor, and the Public Sphere, Benacka offers a unique vantage point to consider one of the great satirists of our times. Taking us beyond the television screen, she deftly employs a rich body of rhetorical theory to examine Stephen Colbert s remarkable forays into the public sphere. She makes a compelling case that Colbert s intersections with real political institutions represent both a daring kind of political art and an innovative and much needed — form of civic education.–Geoffrey Baym, Temple University

Benacka adeptly marries the history of rhetoric with contemporary comedy and politics, using Stephen Colbert as exemplary case study and bellwether.–Amber Day, Bryant University

In her insightful book, Dr. Benacka explores the relevance of classical rhetorical theory for understanding the role played by satire, parody and irony in 21st century U.S. public culture. Her examination of Stephen Colbert’s years-long performance as a right-wing ideologue makes a strong case for the important role these rhetorical techniques play in an increasingly fragmented public realm. Her focus on moments when Colbert’s character moved out of the studio and into the world reveals much about the fractured nature of our public spaces and about the symbiotic relationship between political leaders and media elites in the early 21st century.–Mark A. Pollock, Loyola University Chicago

About the Author
Elizabeth Benacka is assistant professor in the Department of Communication at Lake Forest College.

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