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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