Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)

Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Phillip Sipiora, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Victor Peppard, Ph.D.

Committee Member

John Lennon, Ph.D.


dialogue, heteroglossia, Mikhail Bakhtin, utterance


Does the phenomenon of carnivalesque challenge hegemony and inspire social change? Mikhail Bakhtin coined the term “carnivalesque” to describe the concept of Carnival. During Carnival, social norms were overturned and ignored in favor of a chaotic atmosphere, briefly breaking down the boundaries between class, gender, and other hegemonic perspectives. Modern Carnivals, such as the Rio Carnival, still contain a semblance of the carnivalesque, as well as other holidays that celebrate the grotesque and macabre, like that of the Day of the Dead. The LGBT Pride Parade can also be seen as a modern Carnival, for it focuses heavily on sexual and gender identities that have been suppressed in most of the world. When celebrating these carnivalesque events, one can dress up and change their identity to something less tolerated in an oppressive hegemony. For example, some participants may cross-dress or act in less traditional ways, while others will dress in ways that mock the social standards of royalty or religion. Many of these identities challenged the status quo of society and slowly became accepted. This thesis explores the role the carnivalesque has in celebrating alternative identities and its use as a rhetorical tool for inspiring social change, as well as examine how Carnival uses dialogic language. The methods of exploring this topic include reading Bakhtin’s texts on language and rhetoric, analyzing other sources that also explore language and carnivalesque elements, and considering the history of Carnival and its influence on people and society.

Included in

Rhetoric Commons