Critical evaluation of Mikhail Bakhtin’s theory of carnivalesque concepts in modern popular culture

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Essay by Zanda Balode

This essay aims to argue that contemporary popular culture contain elements of carnivalesque, which can create a space for social and cultural resistance and transgression. However, it should be noted that it is pretty limited in modernity. These limitations will be outlined further in essay. Next paragraph will look at the elements of carnival in Middle Ages from Bakthin’s cultural theory’s view and it will briefly explain main shifts in the society since Renaissance. Three different social and cultural examples will be used to show that some elements of carnival are used in art, advertising and in popular culture in general, in order to challenge the status quo. The essay will examine in depth three features of Bakhtin’s carnivalesque theory, firstly, celebration of ‘lower – body stratum,  secondly, ‘grotesque body’ and lastly the concept of ‘the world turned upside down’ or in other words utopian thought…

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