Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Professor Joseph Adamson


This thesis develops a cognitive approach to the venerable topic of literary genre. In particular, it uses and explores "cognitive rhetoric", Mark Turner's theoretical framework for literary inquiry; and it studies in depth the literary genre named "Menippean satire". The first chapter motivates a cognitive approach to literary inquiry while surveying the theory and criticism of satire and Menippean satire. The second chapter works out more fully and systematically than other studies the implications of a cognitive perspective on problems in the theory ofliterary genre. It argues that genres can be described as having a "prototype structure", rather than a traditional category structure, where categories are defined by necessary and sufficient conditions and arranged in general-to-specific hierarchies. It applies George Lakoff's explanation for prototype structures in categorization--his theory that thought is structured by "Idealized Cognitive Models"--to issues in genre theory and criticism. The third chapter addresses the prototype structure of Menippean satire--that is, ideas about "representativeness'' among its members, and what this implies for the category's cognitive model. Chapter four recasts recognized facts about the systematicity of metaphors for satire in terms of the conceptual theory of metaphor for the first time. It analyzes the structure of the metaphorical model for the concept of satire as it appears in talk about satire by writers and critics. Chapters five, six, and seven each analyze the structure of a key feature of Menippean satire in cognitive-rhetorical terms for the first time. Chapter eight summarizes the view of the thesis by contrasting it with the view of a recent article on "Menippean discourse", and presents an original argument for the coherence of literary genres in terms of the coherence of the image-schemas associated with cognitive models for its features.

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