Questioning Carnival and the Concept of “Carnivalesque”

Jack Santino (Bowling Green State University, retired)

Questioning Carnival and the Concept of the "Carnivalesque" While carnivals are routinely described as "the world turned upside-down," "time out of time," and inversive, resistant and even oppositional to authority, this paper questions the extent to which carnival, in this case a well known celebration in Dunkirk, France, is truly emancipatory. Observation, participation, and interviews with other participants, has led me to wonder if this carnival, famously rowdy and apparently "carnivalesque," in Bakhtin's termination, does not in fact intensify normative gender roles and normative authority. I will question the roles of women and other minorities, in carnival, and suggest that in fact this event acts as a ritual intensification of heteronormative values.

Part of 07-12 Directions in Carnival Studies, Saturday, November 04, 8:30 am–10:00 am