The Conception of a Laugh: Aesthetic Cognitivism and Incongruous Dimensions in the Victorian Satirical Novel
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This essay, drawing upon the Incongruity Theory of humor as well as Aesthetic Cognitivism will examine instances of satire in three novels and exhibit how satire generates a laugh in our brains. This discussion locates itself in the dualities surrounding satire that themselves mimic and emphasize the genre’s inherent heterogeneous formulation and execution. Such dualities exist in the tensions of definition, the historical evolution of satire, contexts of production, as well as readerly and authorial mental and emotional processing that ultimately induce existential inadequacy when uprooting the nineteenth-century’s redefinition of vanity as an incongruity in human reason. In an attempt to allay such exponential unease, this essay looks to Cognitive Aestheticism that, despite instigating its own set of tensions, ultimately pinpoints what happens experientially during a pure moment of satire, at an incongruous junction, finally threading back to remedy all that’s been teased.
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