Date of Award

Spring 5-2015

Degree Type

Honors College Thesis



First Advisor

Linda Allen

Advisor Department



The carnivalesque is a literary mode that takes the characteristics of medieval carnivals and brings them to literature. Academic study of the carnivalesque has thus far been relatively limited, leaving the researcher to explore a largely untapped field of literary analysis. The carnivalesque is most easily observable in the more celebrated mode of literature known as magical realism, which is a mode generally associated with Latin American authors, including several Nobel laureates. Magical realism deals with the insertion of traditional supernatural elements into otherwise natural worlds, which is the point where this mode intersects with the carnivalesque (though the two are not dependent on each other). This research seeks to prove the endurance of the carnivalesque mode—specifically that its effects outlast its actions—and will include an exploration of magical realism as well. The major text for this research is Mikhail Bakhtin’s Rabelais and His World, and the analysis will include a selection of magical realist novels. Through a careful retracing of carnival history, analysis of key carnivalesque elements, and close literary analysis, the researcher intends to study a facet of the carnivalesque mode previously overlooked by Bakhtin.