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The Carnivalesque: Tricksters and Transgressions

  • 2019.09.19
  • Event
The carnivalesque can be defined as temporary suspensions of order marked by the inversion of established hierarchies, by transgressions of normal social behaviour, and by the licence granted to ‘trickster’ figures to speak truth to power. In this talk, I give a historical overview of the carnivalesque by discussing a number of literary texts, beginning with Greek drama and Roman satire (Euripides’ The Bacchae and Pertronius’s The Satyricon), moving though the Renaissance (Rabelais’ Gargantua and Pantagruel and Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream), and finishing with recent novels (Angela Carter’s Nights at the Circus and Kundera’s The Festival of Insignificance). I trace the evolution of the carnivalesque across these periods, noting its shifting social and political significance, and conclude by discussing the relationship between the carnivalesque, the recent rise of populist politicians in the West, and the concept of ‘post-truth’.

Topic:              The Carnivalesque: Tricksters and Transgressions

Time& Date:  16:00-18:00, September 20th, 2019 (Friday)

Venue:            109 Zhi Xin Building

Speaker:         Prof. Ivan Stacy [Beijing Normal University]

Host:               Dr. Lucas Scripter [CUHK(SZ)]

Language:      English

Abstract:

The carnivalesque can be defined as temporary suspensions of order marked by the inversion of established hierarchies, by transgressions of normal social behaviour, and by the licence granted to ‘trickster’ figures to speak truth to power. In this talk, I give a historical overview of the carnivalesque by discussing a number of literary texts, beginning with Greek drama and Roman satire (Euripides’ The Bacchae and Pertronius’s The Satyricon), moving though the Renaissance (Rabelais’ Gargantua and Pantagruel and Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream), and finishing with recent novels (Angela Carter’s Nights at the Circus and Kundera’s The Festival of Insignificance). I trace the evolution of the carnivalesque across these periods, noting its shifting social and political significance, and conclude by discussing the relationship between the carnivalesque, the recent rise of populist politicians in the West, and the concept of ‘post-truth’.  

Speaker:

Ivan Stacy is associate professor in the School of Foreign Languages and Literature at Beijing Normal University. He specialises in fiction since 1945, and his two main research topics are complicity and the carnivalesque. He holds a PhD in contemporary literature from Newcastle University (UK), and has taught in China, Thailand, South Korea, Libya, and Bhutan. 

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