Poststructuralism: A Very Short Introduction by Catherine BelseyPoststructuralism changes the way we understand the relations between human beings, their culture, and the world. Following a brief account of the historical relationship between structuralism and poststructuralism, this Very Short Introduction traces the key arguments that have led poststructuralists to challenge traditional theories of language and culture. While the author discusses such well-known figures as Barthes, Foucault, Derrida, and Lacan, she also draws pertinent examples from literature, art, film, and popular culture, unfolding the poststructuralist account of what it means to be a human being.
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How to Analyze Literature Using the Post-structuralism School of Criticism
Post-structuralism is either a continuation or a rejection of the intellectual project that preceded it structuralism. Structuralism was an intellectual movement in France in the s and s that studied the underlying structures in cultural products such as texts and used analytical concepts from linguistics , psychology , anthropology, and other fields to interpret those structures. Post-structuralism rejects the structuralist notion that the dominant word in a pair is dependent on its subservient counterpart and instead argues that founding knowledge either on pure experience phenomenology or systematic structures Structuralism is impossible because history and culture condition the study of underlying structures and these are subject to biases and misinterpretations. This impossibility was not meant as a failure or loss, but rather as a cause for "celebration and liberation". Some scholars associated with structuralism, such as Roland Barthes and Michel Foucault , also became noteworthy in post-structuralism.
The second half of the twentieth century, with its torturous experiences of the World Wars, Holocaust and the advent of new technologies, witnessed revolutionary developments in literary theory that were to undermine several of the established notions of Western literary and cultural thought. Derrida was also influenced by Nietzsche, Freud and Marx, each of whom brought about revolutionary ways of thinking in their respective disciplines. This anti-foundationalism and scepticism about the traditional concepts of meaning, knowledge, truth and subjectivity also found radical expression in Marxism Althusser , Feminisms Butler, Cixous, Kristeva , New Historicism Greenblatt and Reader Response theory Iser, Bloom and others. Poststructuralism emphasised the indeterminate and polysemic nature of semiotic codes and the arbitrary and constructed nature of the foundations of knowledge. Paul de Man in his Allegories of Reading explores the theory of figurative language, affirming that linguistic texts are self-deconstructing. Barbara Johnson in A World of Difference illustrated deconstruction in the context of race and gender. Spivak in Can the Subaltern Speak?
Post-Structuralism is a late 20th Century movement in philosophy and literary criticism, which is difficult to summarize but which generally defines itself in its opposition to the popular Structuralism movement which preceded it in s and s France.
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A Brief Background on Post-structuralism:
Access to the full content is only available to members of institutions that have purchased access. If you belong to such an institution, please log in or find out more about how to order. Post-structuralism is a late-twentieth-century development in philosophy and literary theory, particularly associated with the work of Jacques Derrida and his followers. Although structuralism was never formulated as a philosophical theory in its own right, its implicit theoretical basis was a kind of Cartesianism, but without the emphasis on subjectivity. It aimed, like Descartes , at a logically rigorous system of knowledge based on sharp explicit definitions of fundamental concepts.
A reaction to the formulaic system of Structuralism, post-structuralism sees the collective works of literature as an interconnected network of derived meanings. He sought to challenge the logocentrist structure and patterns of western thinking, claiming that there could be no universal source of logic and meaning. Post-structuralism operates on a few basic tenets which revolve around the concept that literature and art can never reach full closure. Works are inspired and based upon each other. They share techniques and subject matter. It is impossible for a poem or novel to be self-sufficient. Perhaps in an effort to avoid this inevitability somewhat, post-structuralists tend to focus on seemingly meaningless and small details in a piece of literature.
Post-structuralism refers to the intellectual developments in continental philosophy and critical theory that were outcomes of twentieth-century French philosophy. The prefix "post" refers to the fact that many contributors such as Jacques Derrida, Michel Foucault , and Julia Kristeva were former structuralists who, after abandoning structuralism, became quite critical of it. In direct contrast to structuralism's claims of culturally independent meaning, post-structuralists typically view culture as inseparable from meaning. While post-structuralism is difficult to define or summarize, it can be broadly understood as a body of distinct reactions to structuralism. There are two main reasons for this difficulty.