Is Carnival Carnivalesque?

Peter Tokofsky (Stanford University)

Due to the influence of Mikhail Bakhtin and other cultural historians and literary theorists, the term “carnivalesque” has become commonplace to describe not just pre-Lenten festivals, but all manner of enactments that are believed to disrupt and invert the dominant social order. Although historians have pointed to a few instances when Carnival celebrations resulted in tumult and revolution, this paper suggests that the idea of the carnivalesque is based on an inaccurate understanding of Carnival. Examples indicate that the pre-Lenten festival more readily supports existing social orders than upends them.

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