It has seemed at times that there is no neutral territory between those who see Bakhtin as the practitioner of a kind of neo-Marxist, or at least materialist, deconstruction and those who look at the same texts and see a defender of traditional, liberal humanist values and classical conceptions of order, a conservative in the true sense of the term. Arising from a conference under the same title held at Texas Tech University, Carnivalizing Difference seeks to explore the actual and possible relationships between Bakhtinian theory and cultural practice. The introduction explores the changing configurations of our understanding of Bakhtin's work in the context of recent theory and outlines how that understanding can inform, and be informed by, culture both ancient and modern. Eleven articles, spanning a wide range of periods and cultural forms, then address these issues in detail, revealing the ways in which Bakhtinian thought illuminates, sometimes obfuscates, but always challenges.
Peter I. Barta is Senior Lecturer in Russian Studies and Head of Russian at the University of Surrey, UK. Paul Allen Miller is Associate Professor of Classics and Director of Comparative Literature at the University of South Carolina, USA. Charles Platter is Professor of Classics at the University of Georgia, USA. David Shepherd is Professor of Russian and Director of The Bakhtin Centre at the University of Sheffield, UK.