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Deconstruction

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					Deconstruction

Literary Criticism: An Introduction to
Theory and Practice
Charles E. Bressler
A Review of Structuralism
   Language is primary means of
    signification
   Signification is how we achieve meaning
    through linguistic signs and other symbols
   Language comprises its own rule-
    governed system to achieve meaning
   Language is not the only sign system
   Act of reading is a cultural and social
    practice that contains its own codes
   Meaning in a text resides in these codes
Structuralism, continued
   Reader has mastered codes before he/she
    ever picks up the text
   Proper study of literature is inquiry into
    conditions surrounding the act of
    interpretation itself, not the investigation
    of the text
   Structuralists seek to discover the overall
    system (langue) that accounts for the
    individual interpretation (parole)
DECONSTRUCTION
   Challenges structuralist
    assumptions that a text’s meaning
    can be discovered through and
    examination of its structural codes.
   Operates under the maxim of
    undecidability
   Asks a new set of questions to show
    that what a text claims it says and
    what it actually says are different
DECONSTRUCTION
   Casts doubts on previously held
    theories that sought to find
    meaning(s) in a text
   Declares that a text has an almost
    infinite number of possible
    interpretations
   Some assert that interpretations are
    as creative and important as the
    text
Important Terms to Know
   Modernism            Syntax
   Postructuralism      Signifier
   Postmodernism        Signified
   Deconstruction       Sign
   Signification        Transcendental
   Langue                Signified
   Parole               Logocentrism
   Mimetic              Binary Oppositions
   Phonology            Privileged
   Grammar              Unprivileged
TERMS, continued

   Phonocentrism
   Metaphysics of presence
   Supplementation
   Differance
MODERNITY

• Human ability to reason and to
  grasp truth (Enlightenment)
• Undoubtable truths supplied by
  mathematics
• Science can lead the way to
  complete understanding of the
  physical world
MODERNITY

• Power and strength of individual
  mind
• Truth is to be discovered
  scientifically
• Texts possess some objective
  knowable existence that may
  be analyzed
POSTMODERNISM
 Challenges modernity’s view of world
 No objective reality
 All definitions of truth are subjective
 Truth is relative
 Map of meaning replaced with metaphor of
 collage
 Reality is human construct
 Meaning is provisional
 Decline of influence of religious systems
Ferdinand Saussure

   Linguistic SIGN (word)

   SIGNIFIER (spoken sound or
    written symbol)

   SIGNIFIED (concept signaled by
    signifier)
Linguistic Sign

   Is defined by differences that
    distinguish if from other signs




                    DOG


            CAT      PIG     MAN
SIGNIFIER

    SPOKEN OR WRITTEN FORM



    Read this word: FIRE
    Say this word: FIRE
SIGNIFIED: concept or thing
SIGNIFIED: concept or thing
Fire?????????
Arbitrary. . .
Sign Is Arbitrary

   Key                Home
   Eye                Post
   Note               Book
   Lie                Girls
   Guys               Baby
   Honey              Heart
DERRIDA AND SAUSSURE

   Derrida affirms concept of language
    system based on difference

   Derrida asserts that the signified
    can also only be known through
    relationships
I filled the glass with milk.

   Glass is signifier of the signified
    concept of a container to hold the
    milk



   HOWEVER, IN THE FOLLOWING
    SENTENCE. . .
The container was filled with glass.

   Spoken or written “container” was
    signified in previous sentence, but
   Now is the signifier
   Its signified the concept of an
    object that can be filled
   Notice the changing use of the word
    GLASS
    LOGOCENTRISM:
    Western desire to find a center and its belief in
    ultimate reality or center of truth to serve as
    basis for all thoughts and actions



   Western metaphysics invents a variety of
    terms to function as centers
   Each can operate as a concept that is self-
    sufficient and self-originating
   Thus serving as transcendental signified
Deconstruction:
   a new reading strategy
 Discover binary oppositions that
  govern a text
 Comment on values, concepts, ideas
  beyond the binaries
 Reverse these binaries
 Dismantle previously held worldviews
 Accept possibilities of various
  perspectives or levels of meaning
 Allow meaning to be undecidable

				
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posted:10/12/2011
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