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Transcript of Deconstructionism
AP English/pd. 5 B/C Deconstructionism is a way of interpreting literature
It is based on the theories of Jacques Derrida
It's hard to find a unified definition of Deconstructionism; even its creator, when asked to define it stated "I have no simple and formalisable response to this question" (Derrida, 1985 p. 4)
Some of the better definitions include:
" [a form of criticism that] seeks to destabilize meanings instead of establishing them" - The Compact Bedford Introduction to Literature
"[A] is a reaction to structuralism... [that] works against seeing language as a stable, closed system" - Dr. Kristi Siegel As previously mentioned, Deconstructionism is based on the theories of Jacques Derrida
Important tenets of Deconstructionist thought: Language is an imperfect tool that can never say what we intend it to mean, therefore literature is incapable of having a fixed meaning
All pieces of literature are based are based on hierarchal dualisms (good against evil, reality versus appearance, etc.) where one of the two conflicting elements is considered dominant and therefore correct
A close analysis of any text will show inherent contradictions between the elements of that text, all cancelling each other out and ultimately deconstructing the text's apparent meaning Jacques Derrida first began articulating his theories in the 1960's with a series of books and essays analyzing texts in what became the Deconstructionist style
Deconstructionism began gaining recognition in the late 60's and achieved its peak popularity in the 70's and 80's
Its theories were mainly supported and propagated by intellectuals and members of American universities at the time
Recently, deconstructionists has been criticized by Christian scholars for their attempts to deconstruct the Bible
Despite its fair share of criticism, deconstructionism remains a well-known, if controversial, approach to analyzing literature Famous Deconstructionists include: French philosopher, Jacques Derrida
The Yale School, a group of influential philosphers and crtics including Paul de Man
Architect Frank Gehry Derrida's theories not only inspired literary critics, they also started a movement in architecture MIT's Stata Center The Guggenheim Museum Bilboa Dance Hall in Prague (Ginger and Fred Building) How Deconstructionists Analyze The Red Badge of Courage Deconstructionist View of the Red Badge of Courage Works Cited The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald, can be considered through a variety of lenses: From a Marxist perspective, the novel focuses on class struggles and the exploitation of the poor by the rich
From a feminist perspective, the novel highlights the predicament of women during the early twentieth century
From a mythological stance, the novel centers around the story of a tragic hero The Great Gatsby is the story of Jay Gatsby, a wealthy business man in the Roaring 20's. It is told from the perspective of his neighbor, Nick Carraway, and details Gatsby's ill fated romance with Daisy Buchanan, his long lost love who is now married to another man. The Great Gatsby can be seen as illustrating the faults of Capitalism by showing the rich taking advantage of the poor (for example Tom taking advantage of Mr. Wilson and always offering to sell him a car with no intent of doing so)
Despite this, there are also examples of the poor controlling the rich (Mr. WIlson killing Gatsby)
Also, the novel's main character, who you sympathize with, is a member of the upper class
The Great Gatsby can also be seen as being sympathetic to the plight of women at the time; the scene in which Tom hits Myrtle and some of Daisy's statements (the best thing a girl can be is a fool) support this
On the other hand, Daisy and Myrtle are portrayed in a very negative light that makes the reader unwilling to sympathize with them
Jay Gatsby can be seen as a tragic hero (he suffers to protect someone else, he is separated from his family and his home, etc.)
Gatsby can also be seen as a villain when one looks at other aspects of his character (he makes money bootlegging and selling fraudulent bonds The Red Badge of Courage, by Stephen Crane, is a book about a young soldier, Henry, who goes off to fight in the Civil War full of idealistic ideas about what will happen. He sees war as being full of glory and is ultimately disappointed and disillusioned by what he finds.
Because of its themes, the Red Badge of Courage is often considered to be an anti-war novel. The Red Badge of Courage is a coming of age novel
In addition, it frequently portrays war in a negative light
The text ultimately contradicts itself, however, because it is not until he distinguishes himself on the battlefield that he truly becomes a man (war ends up being a positive experience for Henry) Deconstructionists analyze a text by looking for the parts of it that disrupt the tidy meaning we expect it to have
The especially seek the parts that contradict the hierarchal dualism that they think all literature is based on
Many deconstructionists look also look into the finer aspects of the text, including word choice and imagery, to find the contradictions that they believe are inherent to all written works "Architecture." Guggenheim Foundation. The Solomon R. Guggenheim
Foundation, n.d. Web. 19 Sep 2010. <http://www.guggenheim.org/guggenheim-
Crane, Stephen. "Chapter, 24- The Red Badge of Courage." Electronic
Text Center, University of Virginia Library. The University of Virginia, n.d. Web. 19 Sep 2010.
"Deconstruction." The Free Dictionary. Farlex, Inc., n.d. Web. 19 Sep
"Derrida- defining Deconstruction." Youtube.com. Web. 20 Sep 2010.
"The Fred and Ginger Buidling." Vastudc Blog. Web. 19 Sep 2010.
"The Guggenheim Bilbao." Arts Journal. Web. 19 Sep 2010.
Meyer, Michael. "Critical Strategies for Reading." the Compact Bedford
Introduction to Literature. Eighth. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin's, 2009.
"Jacques Derrida." Wikimedia. Web. 19 Sep 2010.
"MIT's Stata Center." Wikimedia. Web. 19 Sep 2010.
Siegel, Kristi. "Introduction to Modern Literary Theory."
KristiSiegel.com. Kristi Siegel, n.d. Web. 19 Sep 2010. <http://www.kristisiegel.com/theory.htm>.
"Yale School of Deconstructionism." Museum of Learning. Discovery
Media, n.d. Web. 19 Sep 2010. <http://www.museumstuff.com/learn/topics/Yale_School_of_deconstruction>.