Last week, Justine, Matias and I have managed to get hold of a few interviews that we will use to back up our argument. The people we have chosen to interview are also King’s students in between the ages of 18-25.

The responses turned out to be interesting and useful for the development of our analysis. Indeed, our interviewees mostly responded in accordance with what we expected from their reactions. Most of them found the more recent caricatures more funny/daring, whereas the 1968 caricatures felt more serious, with a less specific aim. Some of them also brought some more insight into our research, as they helped to look at the caricatures with a fresh eye. Coming from different fields of study, each of them included their own visual interpretations.

We are currently working on editing these videos to pick out the most interesting moments, as well as organising the chronology of our presentation.

Summary 01/03/17- Lily

In this week’s session, we have attempted to rephrase our main question as it was a bit too broad. We have decided to look at the way satire has evolved as a tool (in protests, specifically), from May 1960 until now. We will look at the intention behind satire in particular, and the extent to which it wants to gain a  more political or humourous reaction.

We also decided to specifically focus on youth as an age section (perhaps between 18 to 30) to treat our research?

We have discussed the subject together and come to terms with the idea that different contexts bring out different kinds of humour, from the clandestine cartoons of WW2 to a more right wing/left wing division today: now that the war is more and more distant, do we still laugh about the same things?

We have also observed that, in the case of 1968, caricatures were mostly aimed at the government in general, and much more politically engaged. Today, they are much more precise and aimed at specific political figures, making fun of their personal lives and appearance rather than fighting for a bigger cause.

We will therefore compare this gap between making people react and simply making fun of, and discuss whether we can qualify satire as a means or an end.

Through this, we will take into consideration the role of social media in general and its evolution as a platform to spread propaganda. Is humour gradually more and more internationalised, too?  Why had humour changed? Are people gradually more obsessed with celebrity culture, stardom and private spectacle? These are questions that we will aim to find out both through our research of primary and secondary sources, as well as our interview.

The interview:
We have decided to compare two caricatures, one from May 1968 and the other from today, possibly from a protest which happened around the election topic. We will ask the following questions to our subjects:

  • Which one is more political?
  • What are the three words that come to mind when you see these?
  • Do you find it funny? If not, why?
  • When do you think they were made?
  • What do you think the aim is?

Our job this week is therefore to get responses through this interview, as well as finding scholarly sources which will back up our analysis.

Ideas for our Introduction

Here is a link I had found about French humour, its etymology and history. There isn’t that much content we need to use but I thought we could pick up one or two points to introduce our point.

Next steps: refining our topic and finding a research question

This week (February 8th) we met with Sophie once again, after presenting our ideas and what we had discussed the week prior, we came to a more precise idea of what we want to research. We thought about doing a comparative study, but decided it would probably be too difficult to find actual data, so we opted for a historical study of humour in one country – France. Since we felt that studies of political satire often focus on the Anglo-saxon world, we hope a study of France will bring some originality to our research.

We decided we wished to analyse the relationship between political events and satire through time. Regarding our literature review, we have decided to read scholarly articles on the wider theme of links between politics and humour, and to analyse whether the hypotheses presented are relevant to our case study.

In order to have a clear timeline of possible shifts in political satire, we thought we would attempt to find specific events through time that would be our main benchmarks throughout the case study. We aim to identify moments of shift in France’s history of political satire. We thought about studying satire during elections, focusing on one of them or comparing a few; during world war I, since Matias mentioned the clandestine pacifist drawing mocking generals; and/or during the student revolts of May 1968.

We decided upon six main strands of shifts through time that our research should address:

  1. Shifts in form – e.g. 19th century drawings / then radio shows / then TV shows / then youtube
  2. Shifts in content – do we still laugh about the same things?
  3. Shift in object – what are we laughing at? Are we laughing with or at?
  4. Shift in person making the satire – i.e. who they are representing
  5. What taboo subjects are
  6. How central politics is as opposed to other topics

We have also decided to do a survey, interviewing students about their perceptions of French humour, giving them different examples of such, although we have still to work on the details of the interview process.

We also started brainstorming the main medias we would be using for our analysis:

  • Press: le Canard Enchaîné / Plantu / Charlie Hebdo …
  • TV: Les Guignols …
  • Youtube: …

This list will build on as our research continues

We finally came to a draft research question: How has the relationship between political events and satire evolved through time? A case study of France

We divided up our next tasks, Sophie suggested to focus on selecting which exact changes we will be looking at, as well as finding literature for political satire. We will meet again as a group before or during reading week in order to decide on what we want to be doing next.

Brainstorming 101

During our first meeting with Sophie on January 25th, Lily Matias and I brainstormed how we could find a topic that fit our majors – politics and film studies. The three of us are very interested in political satire, and we thought we could study the topic through the medium of television. Realising that we need to narrow down that topic in order to have a clear research question, we drew a mind map on which we all shared our ideas, trying to make sense of them and to find a common thread through it all.

This week (February 1st), we met to discuss our research topic further, and to share what we had been reading in the past few days. Lily had been reading scholarly articles on political satire, while Matias and I had been looking at possible examples of tv shows/humorists/cartoonists that we could use for our study. After researching such examples in four countries – Italy, France, Germany and the U.K, we decided to focus on political satire either in France or in the U.K. Since we all speak English and French fluently, we figured it would be easier for us to search for data, when there would have been a language barrier both for Italy and Germany. We are really interested in both a comparison of political satire between France and the U.K., or a research through time in one of these two countries.

An article from the Economist, ironically titled ‘Very Droll’, points out that the word ‘humour’ was not actually used in France before the revolution of 1789. The French would use words such as ‘esprit’ (wit), ‘farce’ (prank) or ‘bouffonerie’ (drollery), but no word equivalent of the English ‘humour’. The author suggests that this might be the root of the French/English humouristic differences.

We also discussed the idea of possibly doing interviews as part of our research process, although we are still a little unsure of how to go about planning this, so we have decided to talk about it with Sophie in our next meeting.



‘Very Droll’ (2003), The Economist,