My research takes as its foundational assumption the idea that certain twentieth-century middlebrow writers—Nancy Mitford, P.G. Wodehouse, and G.K. Chesterton—can be understood as satirists. My work engages with the implications of this assumption, stressing the interpretive opportunities which arise from a clash between the transgressive unpalatability of satire and the delight and pleasure often associated with the middlebrow.
In particular, my project forges exciting new avenues for discussion of the satiric apologia, often dismissed as an exaggerated and unpersuasive attempt to paint the satirist in an implausibly flattering light, and makes the case for reassessing this device in the context of the middlebrow’s power to assuage and negotiate unpalatability. The issue of literary reputation also gives rise to discussion of celebrity across my work, which notes a convergence between the shift from fame to celebrity, on the one hand, and a shift in satire from genre to mode at the turn of the century.
Given my twin emphases on the urgency of satirical transgression and the enduring impact of the satiric apologia, my research also encompasses the related fields of contemporary biographical fiction, the biopic, and adaptation studies.