Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Communication Studies

First Committee Member

Donovan Conley

Number of Pages



In the context of an estranged public sphere, irony, as dissonance between the literal meaning of the utterance and the latent one, becomes a new standard for political sincerity. What Linda Hutcheon calls irony's "edge," involving "the attribution of an evaluative, even judgmental attitude," cannot be divorced from (political) attitudes and emotion. Despite irony's popular reputation of being a humorous disengaged trope, my analysis follows its deployment in increasingly politically engaged artifacts and performances. Matt Stone and Trey Parker's South Park, Michael Moore's documentaries, and Stephen Colbert's performance at the 2006 WHCA dinner, provide ample evidence of irony as politically relevant. The current project charts irony's progression from South Park's generalized critique of collective behavior, and Moore's politically committed performance of the "impossible conversation," to Colbert's communicating directly to the president his dissent as "truthiness." All these artifacts sketch the image of irony as versatile trope, rhetorically efficient as a mode of political engagement.


Engagement; Irony; Mode; Political

Controlled Subject

Communication; Rhetoric

File Format


File Size

2488.32 KB

Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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