Dwelling on the rich interconnections between parody and festivity in humanist thought and popular culture alike, the essays in this volume delve into the nature and the meanings of festive laughter as it was conceived of in early modern art. The concept of 'carnival' supplies the main thread connecting these essays. Bound as festivity often is to popular culture, not all the topics fit the canons of high art, and some of the art is distinctly low-brow and occasionally ephemeral; themes include grobianism and the grotesque, scatology, popular proverbs with ironic twists, and a wide range of comic reversals, some quite profound. Many hinge on ideas of the world upside down. Though the chapters most often deal with Northern Renaissance and Baroque art, they spill over into other countries, times, and cultures, while maintaining the carnivalesque air suggested by the book's title.