Traditionally, the carnival mode in Europe offers a suspension of time and ordinary social conventions; however, through the presentation and representation of that which is deemed exotic and unconventional, American carnival proposes an alternative landscape. While other authors have generally focused on European manifestations of the carnival, McGowan identifies and analyzes a particularly American form of the carnival, which systematically operates to codify race and space within the United States. Through an analysis of overt carnival forms, such as minstrel shows, World's Fairs, and Coney Island, McGowan demonstrates how America reads society and culture through a dualistic vision contoured by race, class, ethnic, and gender concerns. American exhibitions of Otherness are constructed within, and interpreted through, an economy of spectacular display and punishment, in which the normative position of whiteness is opposed by manipulated representations of Other identities, such as freaks and monsters, blacks, Native Americans, and other minority groups.The volume explores how such carnivalizations of America's racial faces and social spaces extend beyond overt spectacles and constitute a continuous process of encoded readings of social position. The book examines a range of texts and cultural events from the 19th and 20th centuries to identify the operations and mutations of American carnival forms, including literary works by such authors as Fitzgerald, Hawthorne, Hemingway, Faulkner, and Bellow.
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