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In Bakhtin's Rabelais, he discusses the grotesque and the carnivalesque, how would you...

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missjenn | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Adjunct Educator

Posted October 10, 2009 at 9:08 PM via web

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In Bakhtin's Rabelais, he discusses the grotesque and the carnivalesque, how would you define these through the use of supplemental texts?

This is for a possible AP class next year, where theory and criticism would be incorporated because it is the number one complaint I hear from students in low level ENG college courses: we never went over theory!

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kc4u | College Teacher | (Level 3) Valedictorian

Posted October 31, 2009 at 2:40 AM (Answer #1)

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The grotesque as an idea in Bakhtin has connections with his notion of laughter and wit in general. If by 'supplemental' texts, you mean other works of Bakhtin, I think, his book on Dostoyevsky-- The Problems of Dostoyevsky's Poetics can be used very seriously. Grotesque is like a break in the Bakhtinian idea of discourse and a discursive turn is generally marked by the figuration of a grotesque. He says something to this effect in his late collection Speech Genres and the Other Essays.
I would like to direct you to the same texts in connection with Carnivalesque. It is such a central issue that it figures everywhere in him. When he talks about the discourse of the novel, in that famous essay or when he talks about the nature of the dialogue in Dostoyevsky's novels, especially, their open-endedness and polyphony, the carnivalesque implications are always there. Michael Holquist's books on Bakhtin are very good. You can check them out. One can even relate his ideas with the poststructuralist school, especially in terms of the upturning of hierarchy phenomenon.

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