'Round and 'Round We Go: The Endless Carnival, Philadelphia, P.A. (2/25/2011)

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Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures, University of Pennsylvania
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'Round and 'Round We Go: The Endless Carnival
The Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures at the University of Pennsylvania
Friday, February 25, 2011
Keynote Speaker: Prof. Katrin Sieg, Associate Professor of German at Georgetown University's BMW Center for German & European Studies

"The feast is a primary, indestructible ingredient of human civilization; it may become sterile and even degenerate, but it cannot vanish."
~Mikhail Bakhtin, Rabelais and His World

The festival of Carnival is perhaps most exciting for its paradoxical nature. The unallowable is, for a time, allowed; the status quo tossed aside so that it may endure more stably during the rest of the year. Yet, perhaps inevitably, Carnival oversteps its temporal restrictions and becomes timeless. From the disorder central to the Fastnachtspiele of the 15th and 16th centuries to the subversive pageantry of present-day drag balls such as those featured in Jennie Livingston's film Paris is Burning (1990), the topsy-turvy world knows no chronological or geographic limits.

By putting the "-esque" in Carnival and asserting that the feast "cannot vanish," Mikhail Bakhtin significantly calls our attention to the ways in which Carnival slips its leash. His vital "-esque" indicates that there are many manners in which the Carnival persists long after its season is over. Is it more accurate to say that Carnival is endlessly recurring, or that it never truly ends in the first place? What are the ways and manners in which Carnival continues?

It is the longevity of the Carnival paradox that is at the heart of this conference. We are devoted to exploring the enduring ethos of the topsy-turvy. Possible themes for papers include (but are not limited to) the concept of the carnivalesque and its:

· Ambivalent figures, such as the jester, the holy fool, and the devil
· Possible afterlife and continuation
· Closure and/or limitations
· Links to religious or antique feasts
· Humorous and/or violent expressions
· Regional, national, or transnational incarnations
· Possible utilization for political and social change
· Portrayals across various media (paintings, novels, film, graphic novels, etc.)
· Performance/Performativity
· Expression in contemporary LGBTQ culture(s)
· Post-Bakhtinian theorization

Deadline for Abstracts: December 22, 2010.

Please send an anonymous abstract (max. 500 words) with a separate cover sheet indicating the author's name, affiliation, address, and e-mail address to penncarnival@gmail.com.