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Deconstruction and Poststructuralism

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Aneesa Folds

on 25 November 2013

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Transcript of Deconstruction and Poststructuralism

An approach to literature that states words have no absolute meaning, any text is open to a unlimited range of interpretations.
The main concern of the the deconstructive method is to show that the meaning of a literary text is not fixed and stable. Instead, by exploring the dynamic tension within a text's language, literary deconstruction reveals the literary work to be not a determinate object with a single correct meaning but an expanding semantic field that is open to multiple, sometimes conflicting interpretations
M.H Abrahms on Deconstruction
According to Abrams, deconstruction designates a theory and practice of reading that claims to undermine the assumption that the system of language provides grounds that are adequate to establish the boundaries, the coherence or unity, and the determinate meanings of a text.

Deconstruction is a literary criticism movement originated by French critic Jacques Derrida in the 1960s
Hamlet and Deconstruction
Deconstruction Theory embraces the idea that the meaning in a work is always uncertain and it is not the literary critics job to illuminate meaning of it.
Derrida originated the theory but it borrows the ideas of many. Sigmund Freud and Jacques Lacan, Ferdinand de Saussure and more.

For Derrida, Deconstructive reading opens inevitable, unavoidable gaps of meaning that readers fill with their own interpretations. In this way, reading is a strong activity. Readers help give writing its sense by filling in these gaps and conflicts of meaning.
Emerged in France during the 1960's as a movement meant to critique structuralism.
Theorists include Jacques Derrida and Ronald Barthes who was originally a structuralist before he wrote "Death of the Author" a piece encouraging critics to forgo the analysis of the author's intention.
No two readers are alike. He or she will bring their own life experiences to the work and with that decide what his or her own interpretation is.
Deconstruction has been viewed by its opponents as an intellectually obscure. M. H. Abrams wrote a particularly devastating essay on deconstruction, concerns include:
To the deconstructive critic, the language cannot accurately represent reality
Text often contradicts itself
No one can have one meaning
Deconstructionists value close readings of the text and find it more interesting when they focus on meanings implicit in a text that were not necessarily intended by the author.
This causes them to take apart a text piece by piece in order to search for a missing element that may reveal a whole new series of meanings.
Similar to New Criticism
Deconstruction would look at the text and see the conflict in Hamlet’s words, before when he is speaking to himself and then after when he is speaking to his mother or to Ophelia. The way he switches between blank verse and iambic pentameter
The Tempest and Deconstruction
Through Deconstruction you would say that there is no one true meaning, so there is not one reason why Prospero was kicked out of Milan nor why he made slaves of the spirits.
They read the text against itself so as to expose what might be thought of as the textual subconscious, where meanings are expressed which may be directly contrary to the surface meaning.
Hamlet and Poststructuralism
In looking at it through post-structural criticism there is no one way to look at Hamlet going mad or why he did, if there really is a ghost or if it is all in his head. There are missing pieces in the text that, you as the reader have to fill in and think up your own conclusions
The Tempest and Poststructuralism
Looking at through Post-structuralism there is also no one truth to Prospero, how he was run out of the kingdom, in giving up his magic you aren’t sure if he is going to be a good king. It would also look at the opposites that are portrayed in the play, nature/society, human/nonhuman
By: Aneesa Folds
QueenBeasia Baskerville
Natalia Arocho
Justin Graham
Nate Sikma

M.H Abrams on
One of the most fascinating things about the Post-Structuralist movements is that they are impossible to classify under any one of the categories. For example. Some psychoanalytic critics, such as Jaques Lacan, continue to focus on the author, but now are interested in analyzing how the structure of the language itself can subvert authorial intention, which is in a sense an objective analysis.

Post- Structuralists main concern is to act as an approach to literature proceeding from the tenets of structuralism. It maintains that, as words have no absolute meaning, any text is open to an unlimited range of interpretations
The word “différance,” which refers to the process of words deriving meaning form other words. Since words are meaningless symbols that can never fully represent the ideas they are meant to convey, they are always at a distance to what they signify and are open to multiple interpretations through lack of specificity.

They fix upon the surface features of words--similarities in sound, the root meanings of words, a dead or dying metaphor and bring these to the foreground, so that they become crucial to the overall meaning or even disrupt the overall meaning.
They concentrate on a single passage and analyze it so intensively that it becomes impossible to sustain a “univocal” reading and the language explodes into “multiplicities of meaning.”
They look for shifts and breaks of various kinds in the text and see these as evidence of what is repressed or glossed over or passed over in silence by the text and bring these to the surface, analyzing how their “presence” affects the overall meaning of the work.
Deconstruction and New Criticism

-New criticism looks to understand words as complex
constructions. These words are made up of different, contrasting levels of
literal and non-literal meanings.

-Deconstructive is in a way opposite of this, that the words have conflict between meanings of different types. They don’t view it as an individual
work. They see it as related to other texts, literary and nonliterary.

Post-Structuralism and New Criticism
-They both see less to no importance about being aware of
the structure of the work but look more so closely at the text.

-New Criticism analyzes the text more to gain meaning while
post structuralism does not because the text is open to a numerous amount of

Post -Structuralism and Psychoanalytic criticism
-Post structural has some psychoanalytic criticism in it because they both see the text as having a wide range of meaning. Psychoanalytic Criticism
sees the text as repressing content behind the obvious or surface, similar to
that of post structural.

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