Honors Theses

Date of Award


Document Type

Undergraduate Thesis


Croft Institute for International Studies

First Advisor

Anne Quinney

Relational Format



The purpose of this thesis is to describe French satire, how it has illustrated changes and issues in society, and also how it has influenced political identity in France. Beginning with the principles of the Enlightenment, this thesis seeks to understand the important role that criticism has played in regards to established institutions. Satire has always pushed the limits of the taboo, serving as an indicator for what is acceptable and what is not. In the nineteenth century, decades of governmental change following the 1789 French Revolution gave satire a voice through its honesty and blatant judgment. During this time, issues of freedom of speech and the role of government were important factors, and the public officials demanded legal repercussions for the actions of satirists. In the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, satire has targeted other societal institutions rather than government, and in particular, religion. Immigration, terrorism, and the notion of laïcité have been integral to recent discourse in French society. The 2015 terror attacks on the offices of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo demonstrated the ways in which the stakes have been raised for satire. While satire is an analysis of current events, it is also a provocateur, bringing attention to the issues of the time. This thesis compares the satire of the post-Revolutionary period with the satire of today to show that while issues change, the role of satire remains an integral part the mainstream culture.


A thesis presented in partial fulfillment of the requirements for completion of the Bachelor of Arts degree in International Studies from the Croft Institute for International Studies and the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College.



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