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An Introduction to Deconstruction

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					An Introduction to Deconstruction
                                                              The
                                                       “Je ne sais quoi”
                                                               of
                                                        Literary Theory


                                                           Presented by
                                                           Deidre Price

Refractions (1988) by Papadakis, Cooke, and Benjamin
Aims
• Define deconstructionist theory

• Explain the purpose of deconstruction
    – Relate deconstruction to structuralism

    – Define semiotics

• Discuss the principles of post-structuralism

• Explore the process of deconstruction

• Evaluate a sample deconstructionist reading
               Defining Deconstruction
   Deconstruction is

   –Jacques Derrida




                                  [Deconstruction] is




Photo by Sijmen Hendriks (1997)
          Purposes of Deconstruction
Despite the difficulty of defining deconstruction,
     Lynn argues in favor of teaching deconstructive
     theory with three reasons:

1. 2.
3.
            Structuralism and Semiotics
                                Ferdinand de Saussure, the author of structuralism,
                                     examines the relationships between words.

                                     –       Parole
                                     –       Langue
                                     –       Signifier:
                                     –       Signified:


                                         is the root of structuralism.

                                Structuralists believe that


Untitled (2004) by Anson Vogt
Post-Structuralism   Untitled (2002) by Richard R. Barron
Practicing Deconstruction
                                       Lynn suggests asking these questions to
                                            deconstruct a text:

                                       1.   What does the text most obviously
                                            seem to say?
                                       2.   How can the text be turned against
                                            itself, making it say also the opposite
                                            of what it most obviously seems to
                                            say?
                                       3.   How can something apparently
                                            marginal or trivial in the text come
                                            to our attention?




Men Reading (1823) by Francisco Goya
         Contextualization Theories
                                     An Introduction to

                                   Historical,
                                  Postcolonial,
                                            and

                                      Cultural
                                      Literary Theory


                                  Presented by Deidre Price
Untitled (2004) by Marula Lodge
Aims
• Define historical, postcolonial, and cultural theories

• Explore the purposes of the theories and their surrounding ideas:
    –   Biographical and historical criticism
    –   Cultural studies
    –   New historicism
    –   Marxist criticism
    –   Postcolonial studies

• Explore the process of historical, postcolonial, and cultural readings

• Evaluate sample readings:
    – Biographical

    – New historical
Defining Theoretical Studies
• According to Lynn, historical, post-colonial, and cultural
  readings invite



• These readings use



• Historical, post-colonial, and cultural readings allow for
Biographical and Historical Criticism
BIOGRAPHICAL

•   Goal:

•   Prerequisite:

•   Caution:

•   Reversal:                Poe by Nabokov (1849)



HISTORICAL

•   Goal:
    Cultural Studies
                                                      ADA Ad (2004)

•   Goal: to include among the body of commonly-
    studied literature that which is typically
    excluded for being “non-literary” in nature.

•   Example texts: advertisements, cartoons, films,
    romances, television shows, and popular music
    (Lynn 140).

•   Method: “leap[s] across the boundaries of
    disciplines and textual genres” (Lynn 141).
New Historicism
New historicist doubt the following
    principles:




                                      Cartoon Protests,
                                      AP (2006)
Marxist Criticism
A Marxist intends to “see the world



“Marxist criticism strives to see literature in
    terms of



                                                  Karl Marx, Cooperative
                                                  Individualism
 Postcolonial Studies
Patterning their work after Edward
    Said’s Orientalism, postcolonial
    theorists :
Historical Criticism Overview
                                               Berkeley (2005)


According to Lynn, new historicists assume the following:
                                    Practicing Historical
                                               Criticism
                                      Lynn suggests asking these questions to
                                           deconstruct a text:

                                      1.   How can you connect the author’s
                                           life to his or her writing? Are there
                                           common issues, events, concerns?
                                      2.   How can you connect the literary
                                           work to its historical context,
                                           including its literary context?
                                      3.   Is the author part of a dominant
                                           culture, or a colonial culture, or a
                                           postcolonial culture, and how does
                                           that status affect the work?


Corretta Scott King and Malcolm X
                        Works Cited
Derrida, Jacques. “Letter to a Japanese Friend.” Derrida and Difference. Eds.
   David Wood and Robert Bernasconi. Warwick: Parousia Press, 1985.
Johnson, Barbara. The Critical Difference. 1981.
Lynn, Steven. Texts and Contexts: Writing about Literature with Critical
   Theory. 4th ed. New York: Pearson Longman, 2005.

				
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