The Urban Zemiology of Carnival Row: Allegory, Racism and Revanchism

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This article makes the case for the zemiological value of Fredric Jameson’s (2019) model of fourfold allegory. Zemiological value is value in reducing harm and zemiological value is realized by means of aetiology, i.e. explaining the causes of harm. The case for the model is made using a single, detailed example, but the argument is generalizable in virtue of the relationship between fourfold allegory and contemporary social life. I begin by delineating Jameson’s model of allegory as a thick narrative with four distinct levels of meaning, literal, symbolic, existential, and anthropic. I explain each of these levels with reference to Carnival Row (2019), an urban fantasy television series that explores racism, alienation, and decivilization. I conclude by demonstrating how the allegory reveals a particular combination of causes that contribute to the replacement of a cosmopolitan ideal with a revanchist reality articulated by Gareth Millington (2011) in his theory of the racialized global metropolis.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)367
Number of pages383
JournalCritical Criminology
Issue number2
Early online date16 Feb 2021
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jun 2021


  • Criminology


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