Theory and Practice of Parody, Irony, and Satire
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ItemAre Parody and Deconstruction Secretly the Same Thing?(Johns Hopkins University Press, 1997) Phiddian, Robert AndrewIn this essay, Robert Phiddian argues that Derridean deconstruction is not just a (serious) theory couched in a parodic mode (that it is a parodic theory of language), but also that it treats language and questions of truth and reference as if they were already in a play of parody (that it is a theory of parodic language). Though some recent work is beginning to look at ways of taking it less "seriously," this is decidedly not the way it has generally been received in the academic community.
Item"Foucault's Pendulum" and the Text of Theory(University of Wisconsin Press, 1997) Phiddian, Robert AndrewUmberto Eco denies that "Foucault's Pendulum" is an allusion to the theories of Michel Foucault: 'I was aware from the very beginning that somebody could have smelled an allusion to Michel Foucault... [but] as an empirical author I was not so happy about such a possible connection. It sounds like a joke and not a clever one, indeed. But the pendulum invented by Leon was the hero of my story and I could not change the title: thus I hoped that my Model Reader would not try to make a superficial connection with Michel.' In this essay, Phiddian refutes this denial. What if Eco's concession that 'maybe I am responsible for a superficial joke; maybe the joke is not superficial. I do not know' is actually true, and the joke isn't superficial, but rather a covert indication that the novel is secretly constructed around the ideas of Michel Foucault and his followers? If we pick up the thread and seek to read the word 'Foucault' in the title not as a 'superficial' joke, but rather as the key to a covert allegory of poststructuralist semiosis, Eco's parodic text starts to spin in fascinating ways. In fact, the precise connection with Foucault is an inevitable and (for Eco) convenient indirection, in that it does not lead us very far in its own right. Phiddian proposes that we read the 'Foucault' in the title as a metonymy for poststructuralist theory at large.
ItemIrony in the Eye of the Beholder. Review of "Irony's Edge: The Theory and Politics of Irony" by Linda Hutcheon(School Humanities and Social Sciences, Monash University Gippsland, 1995) Phiddian, Robert AndrewHutcheon's fundamental principle, and the point which sets her work apart from the mass of formalist and intentionalist analysis of irony that has gone before, is that irony is an event which is inferred by the reader/watcher/listener, rather than a formal trope of language or a deliberate message from the artist. Wisely, she does not claim that form or intention are irrelevant to irony, but she carves out her territory in "the theory and politics of irony" in the zone of reader-response and the pragmatics of reception.