Cinema and the Carnivalesque—2011 SCMS Panel in New Orleans (03/10-03/13)

full name / name of organization: 
Maggie Hennefeld / Brown University

The comedic and socially transgressive mode that Mikhail Bakhtin defines as "carnivalesque" primarily concerns literary forms of representation. This panel poses the question: what would it mean for the cinematic medium to be carnivalesque?

Bakhtin emphasizes the following key criteria for the carnivalesque: the replacement of order with chaos; temporary reversals of social hierarchies (crownings and decrownings); aesthetic defamiliarization through parodic or grotesque modes; and dialogical forms of communication that efface any dominant, authorial voice and that seek to negotiate more democratic relationships between "reader" and "text."

This panel welcomes papers that grapple with one or more of the following questions:

* How does cinema mediate the carnivalesque?
* How do carnivalesque strategies differ between genres, production modes, geopolitical regions, and historical epochs?
* Do experimental and avant-garde films often employ carnivalesque strategies in order to critique mainstream cinema?
* How does the carnivalesque enable cinema to transgress its own censorship (either governmental or self-regulatory)?
* Can the carnivalesque film ever be merely aesthetic, or does it always assert an external political critique?
* What are the boundaries of the carnivalesque?
* Is there a dialogue between the carnivalesque's mediation of comedy and its political engagement of social realities?
* What are the spectral politics of the carnivalesque in cinema and how do they respond to questions of social and political change?
* How do carnivalesque films dictate or substantially impact the way that we narrativize national and cultural histories?
* Where would we locate the carnivalesque both stylistically and geopolitically in contemporary cinema?
* How does carnivalesque cinema intermediate between other forms of technology?
* What political and theoretical methods—such as psychoanalysis, Marxism, queer theory, biopolitics, and political theories of state sovereignty—does the concept of the carnivalesque instantiate across and between its different cinematic examples?
* How do carnivalesque films challenge and redefine notions of media citizenship? Do they impact "the conditions of equality, citizenship, and survival in the United States and around the world?"

Any other topics relevant to the question of cinema and the carnivalesque are welcome.

Please send a 250-300 word abstract as a Word attachment to no later than August 15th.