Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Legacy Department

Rhetorics, Communication, and Information Design

Committee Member

Dr. David Blakesley, Committee Chair

Committee Member

Dr. Jeff Love

Committee Member

Dr. Brandon Turner

Committee Member

Dr. Victor J. Vitanza


Ironic Feminism: Rhetorical Critique in Satirical News aims to offer another perspective and style toward feminist theories of public discourse through satire. This study develops a model of ironist feminism to approach limitations of hegemonic language for women and minorities in U.S. public discourse. The model is built upon irony as a mode of perspective, and as a function in language, to ferret out and address political norms in dominant language. In comedy and satire, irony subverts dominant language for a laugh; concepts of irony and its relation to comedy situate the study's focus on rhetorical contributions in joke telling. How are jokes crafted? Who crafts them? What is the motivation behind crafting them? To expand upon these questions, the study analyzes examples of a select group of popular U.S. feminist satires that wrote and presented news as well as comedy. Examples include the television show Murphy Brown, news satirist Molly Ivins, and particularly The Daily Show with Jon Stewart for its longevity. Each of these examples provides operating principles and ideology toward a satirical approach to news. They have their own styles and relations to national events and public dialogues. They also all “punch up,” or critique those in power. This study focuses on The Daily Show also as an example of how to expand feminist discourse with non-feminist discourse. The show evolved over time from misogynist and non-feminist beginnings related to the comedy industry to a place that included feminist discourse and comediennes. The show also advocated catharsis from comedy. Overall, this study advocates dialogue between various orientations to critique hegemonic narratives and mechanisms, offer new styles of critique, and aim at methods of catharsis.



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