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Structuralism

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Ryan Rathman

on 12 December 2013

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Transcript of Structuralism

Linguistics
Langue: structure of the language.
Parole: individual utterances when speaking.
Semiotics
Literature
Anthropology
Structuralism
"For structuralism sees itself as a human science whose effort is to understand, in a systematic way, the fundamental structures that underlie all human experience and, therefore, all human behavior and production." (Tyson 209)
Essentially, what Tyson is saying is that Structuralism as a science seeks to identify the underlying system of organization that structures not only works of fiction, but entire aspects of labor, culture, and even language itself. This structuring mechanism, the one that Structuralism seeks to identify, is imposed by the human brain.
The reason we have separate words for objects, ideas, and sounds is because we notice a difference between all of them, this difference is known as Surface Phenomena.
Ferdinand de Saussure
Structural Linguistics
Published first book at age 21: (Dissertation on the PrimitiveVowel System in Indo-European Languages) - translated.
After writing his doctoral thesis on the Sanskrit locative absolute, he was awarded his doctoral degree.
Developed concept of Structural Linguistics between 1913 and 1915, lectures published posthumously in 1916.
Claude Lévi-Strauss
Structural Anthropology
"Structural anthropology, created by Claude Lévi-Strauss in the late 1950's, seeks the underlying common denominators, the structures, that link all human beings regardless of the differences among the surface phenomena of the cultures to which they belong." (Tyson 215)
What this means is that while rights of passage; for example, may look very different on the outside, that ritual of passage is a common recurring theme in human culture.
Works Cited
Tyson, Lois. Critical Theory Today: A User Friendly Guide. New York: Routledge, 2006. Print.

Studied law and philosophy in Paris, switched focus to Philosophy in 1931
The Elementary Structures of Kinship
came to be regarded as one of the most important anthropological works on kinship.
Applied the Structural Lingustics of Ferdinand de Saussure to Anthropology.
Brazil: 1935-1939
Roland Barthes
Semiotics, Post-Structuralism
1939-1948: Studied for degree in grammar and philology. During this time he contributed to a Parisian paper, and from that he wrote his first full length work
Writing Degree Zero.
Challenged traditional academic views of literary criticism.
Northrop Frye
Archetypal Literary Criticism
Became a prominent academic figure when first book,
Fearful Symmetry,
was

published in 1947.
Received multiple literary awards from The Royal Society of Canada, as well as recognition from the most prestigious Canadian colleges.
The first essay in his second published book
Historical Criticism: Theory of Modes
follows Frye's study of Tragic, Comic, and Thematic literature. He then defines each of those 3 genres using "modes". By defining each genre using these modes, we can see the ethos of the primary character in the story in relation to the other characters present. For example
Theory of Modes
A character in the Mythic fictional mode is "superior in kind to both men and their environment" (Tyson 223). The ethos of that character is further defined when you change the literary genre; for example, in a Tragic Myth, the character posses, on some level, the characteristics or traits of Dionysus.
"Saussure realized that we need to understand language, not as a collection of individual words with individual histories but as a structural system of relationships among words as they are used at a given point in time, or
synchronically.
" (Tyson 213)
"The existence of structural similarities among seemingly different myths of different cultures was one of Lévi-Strauss's particular areas of interest." (Tyson 215)
"semiotics examines the ways linguistic and non linguistic objects and behaviors operate symbolically to 'tell' us something." (Tyson 216)
Icon: signifier resembles signified, i.e a painting
symbol: A sign who's meaning is clear to those who view it, but only because that meaning is agreed upon or made natural by a group.
The Structure of Literary Genres.
"According to Frye, human beings project their narrative imaginations in two fundamental ways: in representations of an deal world and in representations of the real world." (Tyson 221)
"Saussure argued that words do not simply refer to objects in the world for which they stand." (Tyson 213)
"[Barthes] argues that professional wrestling (the brand of wrestling in which the contestents use pseudonyms [...], dress in costume, and orchestrate the match in advance) can be viewed as a sign system" (Tyson 217)
A "sign system", in this case, refers to what each of the wrestlers represent. One wrestler might represent the "good guy" and the other "the bad guy" or maybe each one simply represents too different ways of life the audience can identify with.
"[...] structuralism does not attempt to interpret what individual texts mean or even whether or not a given text is good literature. Issues of interpretation and literary quality are in the domain of surface phenomena, the domain of parole." (Tyson 220)
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