Enter the Carnival: Carnivalesque Semiotics in Early Tudor Moral Interludes
Early Tudor interludes, whether religious or secular, are surprisingly absorbent dramatic forms, playfully blurring distinctions between generic categories. For too long they have been
seen as an ‘epilogue’ to the old medieval tradition or a ‘prologue’ to the emerging renaissance theatre. In fact, a huge portion of their appeal lies in their openness, manifesting itself in both structural, thematic and theatrical terms. This book celebrates this openness, suggesting that it may be better understood and explained through applying Bakhtin’s concepts of carnival and dialogism. Carnival allows us to perceive the supposedly incompatible elements of high and low, religious and secular, serious and comic, old and new as oppositions that have been purposefully adopted to generate meaning(s). Dialogism helps to trace how dramatic texts and theatrical experiences influenced and were in turn influenced by other literary and non-literary phenomena. The main tenet of this book is that transposing the paradigms of carnival onto the sphere of literary analysis of the interludes allows us to perceive the processes of semiosis in these texts as much more dynamic than initially expected.