member authors book on political humor
conservative walks into a bar” sounds like the start of one of many typical jokes.
It actually is part of the title of a new book by a Shippensburg University
faculty member that focuses on political humor.
Conservative Walks Into a Bar: The Politics of Political Humor,” the latest
book by Dr. Alison Dagnes, associate professor of political science, is now available.
Dagnes said she got interested in the topic when she saw that more and
more people were considering The Daily
Show to be a real news source and this raised criticism from those who
claimed it was liberally biased. In addition, she does extensive research in political
communication and comedy is an excellent mechanism to communicate politically.
Dagnes, who joined
Shippensburg in 2003, teaches on such topics as politics and the media,
American political thought, political parties and elections, and the
legislative process. She is the author of a book on the effects of the 24-hour
news system and how politicians and others in politics use media to their own
advantage. She also joined eight other Shippensburg faculty members last year
to co-author a book on sex scandals and politics. Dagnes is also quoted frequently
in various mediums in the U.S. and other countries on a range of political
Dagnes earned her
degree in government from Saint Lawrence University in 1991. She then joined
C-SPAN for five years as a producer, a post that piqued her interest in
American politics. And ultimately led her to the University of Massachusetts at
Amherst where she earned her Ph.D. in political science in 2003.
book is an outgrowth of the perception, especially by conservatives, that modern political satire has a liberal
bias, as seen in such programs as The
Daily Show. A review of political humor by Dagnes shows that there are very
few conservative political satirists. The book uses interviews with political
humorists to explores the history of satire, the comedy profession, and the
nature of satire itself to examine the ideological imbalance in political humor
and to explore the consequences of this disparity.
The book examines
various broadcast programs, including The Daily Show, The Colbert
Report and Saturday Night Live, and explains satire as it relates to
In his review of the book, Dr. Michael
Parkin, associate professor of politics at Oberlin College
in Ohio, called it a thoughtful analysis of political satire in America. “Its
unique focus on why there is so little satire on the political right raises
broader questions about the connection between humor and American politics,” he
wrote. “Combining experiments with rich historical descriptions, Dagnes shows
that while satire is largely a liberal phenomena, it is not necessarily
prejudicial. Instead, satire should be viewed as a vitally important tool of
political criticism and debate. This book does a wonderful job of
contextualizing and assessing the current state of American political humor.”
Several events are
planned after its publication, including a book discussion Oct. 8 on Sirius/XM
Radio from New York City with Pete Dominick. Other events include a book talk
Oct. 25 at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale and a book talk Nov. 14
at Brookline Booksmith in Boston.