A “Modest Proposal” of your own

This is the link for digital access to Jonathan Swift’s essay, “A Modest Proposal,”: https://www.gutenberg.org/files/1080/1080-h/1080-h.htm
For this assignment, you need to write your own satire in the context of contemporary life, following the example of Jonathan Swift’s satire in “A Modest Proposal.” This is a creative assignment, and you should feel permission to step outside of your usual academic voice. This is an assignment that asks you to think critically, but also creatively, about Swift and also about the world around you. 

In order to do this assignment, you will first need to recognize and point out one contemporary issue or concern that you think reveals injustice. You could discuss policing, immigration, women’s issues, issues related to labor/pay, issues related to healthcare, issues related to the coronavirus, etc… There are other possibilities, but the more specific, the better. (And remember that Swift’s satire relies on the power relationship between the ones doing the injustice and the ones who are being oppressed. If someone with almost no power commits one unjust act, they can’t really be satirized because they aren’t indicative of a broader trend or social attitude.)

Once you have the issue you need to focus on, you need to come up with the vehicle for satirization itself. for Swift, that vehicle is an absurdity–selling children as food for the rich. No one would really do that, but at the same time, the satire does reveal a truth about the society Swift is living in. It shows how great the disparity is between rich and poor, it emphasizes how devalued the lives of children can be, etc… You get the idea, the vehicle needs to be a proposal that is purely satirical–it’s something that would never really happen, but it also reveals a real truth about our society. 

Finally, it’s important to think about tone. Swift’s essay is successful in part because it bills itself as “modest” when in fact it is of course outlandish. The tone is ridiculous, and the reader quickly notices it. Your tone should also be considerably pointed. You need to establish a tone that points out the absurdity of the injustice you are trying to expose and critique. 

Nuts and bolts: 350 words, inspired by the structure of Swift’s essay, satire on one injustice in contemporary society. 

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