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Carnevale di Venezia: Performance and Spectatorship at the Venice Carnival

O'Rourke, Peter John (2015) Carnevale di Venezia: Performance and Spectatorship at the Venice Carnival. PhD thesis, University of Leeds.

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Abstract

The modern day Venice carnival was officially revived in 1980, and is famed internationally for its beautifully costumed and masked maschere and its iconic location in the lagoon city of Venice. The carnival’s twentieth-century revival responded to the organic resurfacing of the event, after a period of desuetude which began at the fall of the independent Republic of Venice in 1797. Considered herein as microcosm of the city itself, the carnival contributes to perceptions of Venice, conjuring the city’s aesthetics of beauty, theatricality, stillness, opulence, mystery, decadence, and death. To analyse the revived carnival, this thesis employs a qualitative, ethnographic methodology, as photographs, interviews, and experiences are utilised as part of the analysis, integrated with critical perspectives from contemporary theatre and performance studies, as well as from a range of other disciplines, including literature, art, photography, history, architecture, film, and tourism. While the modern day carnival is the focus herein, past iterations of the event will contribute critical frames, together with historical accounts, paintings, and engravings of the city and carnival. Instances of contemporary art, theatre, and performance practice, in and beyond Venice, add further insight. The interactions between masked and unmasked participants at the Venice carnival, framed by the city, point to a troubling of the conventional binary of performance and spectatorship, positing the spectator as an active participant in the enactment of carnival. Further, the replicative nature of the event, as it picks up the traces of bygone carnivals, illustrates the way in which performances remain in myriad ways, making the carnival multidirectional and crosstemporal. Although the revived carnival is often perceived as commercialised and touristic, its emphasis on individual creativity, transgression, communality, and the renewal of social bonds ultimately affirms its subversive nature, allowing carnival participants to challenge socially divisive neoliberalist capitalism.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: Venice, carnival, Venezia, carnevale, performance, spectatorship, relationality, subversion, beauty, theatricality, stillness, photography, maschere, statues, art, Bakhtin, tourism, mask, costume
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Arts (Leeds) > School of English (Leeds)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.685231
Depositing User: Dr P J O'Rourke
Date Deposited: 16 May 2016 10:25
Last Modified: 06 Oct 2016 14:42
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/12419

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