We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What Is Post-Irony?

By Megan Shoop
Updated May 23, 2024
Our promise to you
Language & Humanities is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At Language & Humanities, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

In literature, post-irony generally refers to a return to sincerity when the author or character was previously speaking ironically or sarcastically. Some kinds of post-irony literally refer to a change of heart on the part of an author or character. Other kinds of post-irony refer to previously written works that were ironic in their time but are no longer considered as such. A third version of this literary device refers to a moment in which a character or author is being both ironic and sincere at the same time. This last use of this device is often done accidentally, as it is often difficult to combine sarcasm and sincerity on purpose without sounding contrived.

The first definition for post-irony, wherein a character switches between sarcasm and sincerity in the blink of an eye, can be seen in many works of literature. In Shakespeare’s play Hamlet, for example, the title character sometimes becomes the pillar of post-irony. After the appearance of his ghostly father, Hamlet’s speeches constantly wash between ironic ramblings and very sincere and earnest truths. This happens most often when he is speaking to his Uncle Claudius or his mother, Gertrude. He answers their questions with sarcastic, often unhinged, statements and then emphasizes them with earnest and sinister asides to the audience.

The second definition for post-irony, when something previously ironic is no longer perceived that way, can be seen in older works of literature and film. In the film The Graduate, for example, the main character, Ben, is approached by one of his father’s friends. This older gentleman advises Ben to get involved in the production of plastics. In 1967, when the film was made, this scene was viewed as ironic. Plastics were not necessarily seen as a forward-thinking thing in which to invest and the result was uproarious laughter from the audience. Modern viewers of this film often see this scene as good advice since plastic production later became a large and lucrative business.

The third version of post-irony, where it becomes jumbled with sincerity, is possibly the hardest type to pinpoint. One example of this kind of post-irony may be evident in Jonathan Swift’s satire A Modest Proposal. This essay states that if the Irish under English rule don’t have enough resources to feed their children, they should eat them. Swift says that this would solve the overpopulation problems, and that the Irish would have an unlimited supply of food. Of course, this was an ironic essay because Swift did not intend for Irish families to turn to cannibalism. He did intend to attract attention to a very serious problem however — Irish families were starving and the English were doing nothing about it. This work of literature carefully conflates sarcasm and sincerity so that the reader may see both sides of the issue at hand.

Language & Humanities is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By cclinton — On Dec 09, 2013

Irony, so long a tool of the underground, is often tied closely to authenticity. An “authentic” person doing something decidedly “inauthentic” (listening to N*Sync) made for the best sort of late-90s/early-00s irony.

By Briefingist — On Dec 08, 2013

Lena Dunham, the creator of Girls, is a master of post ironic-chatter. Her movie, Tiny Furniture, typifies post irony by having a "who cares?" attitude, while discussing and weighing questions everyone cares greatly about.

Language & Humanities, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

Language & Humanities, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.