ERIC Number: EJ915936
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2011-Mar
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 17
Embracing the Abject Other: The Carnival Imagery of "Harry Potter"
Children's Literature in Education, v42 n1 p70-89 Mar 2011
In "Rabelais and His World" Mikhail Bakhtin traces the history of laughter and the specific impact of Francois Rabelais upon that history, but more important it is the most definitive example of the carnivalesque available to Western scholars to date. By carnivalesque he refers to the traditional language and spectacle associated with folk culture within the carnival season, language and images that represent the universal truths of life, death, and renewal through the grotesque body. Bakhtin's theories of the characteristics of unbridled freedom illustrate the universality and dissident effects of laughter. The revolutionary or subversive, carnival spirit displayed by the clash between official and unofficial culture bear particular significance upon the "Harry Potter" series. At the heart of carnival imagery is what Bakhtin defines as the three elements of laughter: "universalism, freedom, and... [their] relation to the people's unofficial truth" (p. 90). These are the elements of laughter that most adequately characterize Harry Potter's subjective view of what is good and right. He is at the most basic level an initiate of change who works within the realm of the carnivalesque to illustrate the subversive qualities of laughter in opposition to the official culture the muggle world represents with regards to race. The carnivalesque and grotesque in "Harry Potter" illustrates an appeal to social transformation through the power of laughter and the reversal of the dominant order of race and racial difference.
Descriptors: Race, Freedom, Folk Culture, Racial Differences, Social Change, Childrens Literature, Imagery, Humor
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
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