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  • "post-structuralism Post-structuralism emerged in France in the 1960's and is an extension and critique of structuralism, especially as used in critical textual analysis, which emphasizes plurality and deferral of meaning and rejects the binary oppositions of structuralism. It is also defined as the variety of postmodernism defined by its reaction against structuralism in France, and associated with writers such as Derrida, Foucault, and Kristeva. Genesis In France during the 1960â??s, Structuralism began to be replaced by the antinomian movement known as Poststructuralism. Later, Poststructuralism would become known as Postmodernism. Indivisible from the political affairs of 1968, students and workers alike rebelled against the state and nearly caused the downfall of the French government; poststructuralism itself allegorises a drastic dismantling of some of the key hypothesis underlying Western culture and philosophy. Two key figures in the emergence of poststructuralism were Roland Barthes (1915-1980) and Jacques Derrida (1930 - 2004). Towards the end of the 1960â??s Barthes work had begun to change from a structuralist nature to that of poststructuralism. In 1968 Barthes released The Death of the Author in which he declares this metaphorical event to be the affirmation of the autonomy of the literary text and the imperviousness of its meaning to being united or restricted by any concept of what the author might have intended. The death of the Author, he said, was the birth of the Reader, of the proliferation of meanings of the text. However, various people argue that the beginning of poststructuralism may well have been Jacques Derridaâ??s 1966 lecture Structure, Sign and Play in the Discourse of the Human Science. In this thesis Derrida observes a certain intellectual â??happeningâ?? which constitutes a drastic rupture from previous ways of thinking. The event is in relation to the â??decenteringâ?? of our intellectual cosmos. Instead of progress or divergence from an identified centre all we have is â??playâ??. Theory By the direct sense of the word, â??Post-Structuralismâ?? has moved past â??Structuralism.â?? Post-Structuralism, in turn, rejects binary opposition (which is famous within Structuralism) and concludes that meanings within text are unstable and always shifting. Post-structuralism is generally considered to have three main features. 1. Every critic must be able to theorize every position and critical practice to have an understanding. By studying different styles of theory, it creates an understanding of different meanings and interpretations thereby contributing to a greater understanding of the text and the shifting meaning. 2. Post-Structuralism questions the grounding of human beings by calling into question our perception. The post-structuralist view of subjectivity regards the â??selfâ?? as being separated and illogical which makes us â??Decentered.â?? This rejects the idea of the traditional view of a coherent identity. This has created many different view and standing points on what exactly a human being is. 3. The importance has been shifted from the meaning the author intended to the meaning that the reader interprets from the text. Post-Structuralism rejects the idea of a literary text having one purpose, one meaning or one singular existence. For example, a writer could have written a single word like â??dogâ??, imagining a strong German Shepherd, but due to individual experience the reader may envisage a small frightened Chihuahua. Although there are many other aspects of post-structuralism, it is these three characteristics that are the foundations of this style of criticism. Structuralism/Post-structuralism Differentiation Post-Structuralism has been described as a â??rebellion againstâ?? Structuralism, as it was believed Structuralism did not go far enough in its ideas. Structuralism was based on linguistics and focus on texts where they were structured by language. Although Structuralism did encourage questioning these structures, its approach remained more logical and scientific, using observation and reason to come to what they would call the â??rightâ?? conclusions. On the other hand Post-Structuralism took a more philosophical approach where everything including Linguistics could be questioned. Also focusing on a more emotional approach and in a sense begins to show some ideas of Modernism and Post-Modernism. Post-Structuralism can be described as having been influenced by both the Liberal Humanism and Structuralism movements that went before it, adopting and adapting ideas from each movement and combining them with others. Post-Structuralism reflected that in the past Liberal Humanists focused too much on the authority and meanings of the author, while Structuralism focused too much on the structure of the text, and not enough on the message. Historical versus descriptive view Where structuralism attempted to find a level of generalisable and self-sufficient metalanguage capable of describing configurations of elements variously anthropological, literary, linguistic, historical, or psychoanalytic and analyse their relations without being mired by the identity of these elements as such , post-structuralism is said to share a concern for identifying and challenging hierarchies implicit in identification of binary oppositions which generally characterise not only structuralism but Western metaphysics (see deconstruction). Re-evaluation of the structuralist interpretation of Ferdinand de Saussure's distinction between the historical (diachronic) and the descriptive (synchronic) views is the most that can be credited as a common point of critique which generally led post-structuralists to assert that structural analyses are generally synchronic and thereby suppress historical or diachronic analyses. It has accordingly been claimed that post-structuralism has been concerned with reasserting the importance of history, and in so doing, developing new theoretical understandings of the subject. Not entirely apart from this are claims that post-structuralism consists in an emphasis on reinterpreting the work of Sigmund Freud, Søren Kierkegaard, Karl Marx, Friedrich Nietzsche, and Martin Heidegger (e.g. Nietzschean genealogy serves as a reference point for theoretical history in Foucault's work in the 1970s, including his critical remarks about his structuralist work). What Post-structuralists Do Poststructuralists are concerned with the way a text is constructed by criticism and concerned with structuration. They read a text in a reflective and self-conscious way looking at its values and motivations. Poststructuralists find in the text unconscious and unintended meanings, which may be directly contrary to the surface meaning. They bring to the foreground the root meanings of words and similarities in sound. Poststructuralists affirm a texts plurality and they fragment and disperse it, instead of unifying it. They go against their grains of what common sense is and show how a text comes to embarrass its own ruling system of logic. Poststructuralist critics identify a unit, such as a phrase, a sentence or a couple of sentences and analyse it so intensively that the language produces multiplicities of meaning and become impossible to sustain a univocal reading. Lastly, poststructuralists look for fault-lines, which are shifts and breaks in meaning hidden within a text. Prominent figures The term is troublesome because relations between the work of scholars generally held to be post-structuralists (as, virtually without exception, they do not identify themselves as such) are often contentious, and there is not a common set of works to which they all refer as shared doctrine (rather unlike structuralism, where the work of Claude Lévi-Strauss is regarded as a common point of reference). As much as anything else, a common reference for post-structuralism is the fact that prominent structuralists are credited with the movement after they tried to move beyond structuralism's limits. Along with Lévi-Strauss, three of the most prominent post-structuralists were first counted among the so-called "Gang of Four" of structuralism par excellence: Jacques Lacan, Roland Barthes, and Michel Foucault. The works of Jacques Derrida, Gilles Deleuze, and Julia Kristeva are also counted as prominent examples of post-structuralism. Derrida's lecture at Johns Hopkins The occasional designation of post-structuralism as a movement can be tied to the fact that mounting criticism of structuralism became evident at approximately the same time that structuralism became a topic of interest in universities in the United States. This interest led to a 1966 conference at Johns Hopkins University that invited scholars thought to be prominent structuralists, including Derrida, Barthes, and Lacan. Derrida's lecture at that conference "Structure, Sign, and Play in the Human Sciences" often appears in collections as a manifesto against structuralism. Derrida's essay was one of the earliest to designate some theoretical limitations to structuralism (*what were these limitations? What questions was structuralism trying to answer? How did it fail in answering some of these questions?*) and, while giving it due credit, attempt to theorise on terms that were clearly no longer structuralist. Barthes and the need of metalanguage Although many may have felt a necessity to move beyond structuralism, there was clearly no consensus on how this was to take place. Much of the study of post-structuralism is based on the common critiques of structuralism. Roland Barthes is of great significance with respect to post-structuralist theory. In his work Elements of Semiology (1967) he conceptualised the "metalanguage", which is a higher-order language , that is necessary to explain a first or lower-order language. Insofar as one metalanguage is required for one explanation of first-order language, another may be required, so metalanguages may actually replace first-order languages. Barthes exposes how this structuralist system is regressive; orders of language rely upon a metalanguage by which it is explained, therefore deconstruction itself is in danger of becoming a metalanguage, thus exposing all languages and discourse to scrutiny. Barthes' other works contributed deconstructive theories about texts. Characterizations The element of "play" in the title of Derrida's essay is often erroneously taken to be play in a linguistic sense based on a general tendency towards puns and humour, while social constructionism as developed in the later work of Michel Foucault is said to create a sense of strategic agency by laying bare the levers of historical change . The importance of Foucault's work is seen by many to be in its synthesis of this social historical account of the operations of power, see governmentality. It is also often claimed that "post-structuralists" are also more or less self-consciously "post-modernists", but no small number of those so designated have expressed consternation at these terms or even consciously identified themselves as modernists. It is beyond dispute that arguments between those said to be post-structuralists were at least as strident as their objections to structuralism so the term at the very least is not very specific. Contemporary trends in usage seem to employ the term less; rather than attempting to engage with a specific scholarship (as there is no unified post-structuralist position with which to engage). The term is also used as a shorthand for what is seen as a radicalisation of the French academic left and its American cousins following the failure of the May 1968 student protests in France to produce a much-hoped-for revolution. This aspect also has some institutional context: many figures associated with post-structuralism were associated with the University of Paris VIII Vincennes in the northern Parisian suburb of Saint-Denis, established as part of the reorganisation of the French university system in general and the Sorbonne in particular, either serving on its faculty or as formal and informal advisors on matters of faculty and pedagogy." source: answers.com

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