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cheryl loeffler

on 27 March 2014

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Transcript of Structuralism

Based on the observations that things , events, and objects do not have meaning by themselves. Instead, there must be a system, understood by many people, that make those things meaningful.
Remember- everything is connected but meaning/purpose is relative to an individual/culture.
rejects the idea of a literary text having a single purpose, a single meaning, or one singular existence.
individual reader creates a new and individual purpose, meaning, and existence for a given text
Ferdinand de Saussure's lectures about the important principles of language in Geneva between 1907 and 1911 were collected and published by his pupils posthumously in the famous Cours de linguistique générale in 1916
Most structuralist and Post-structuralist don't identify as being so.
Fun Facts
Field anthropologist and chair of Social Anthropology at College de France

Interested in how people were similar across cultures

Myth and Meaning

Claude Levi-Strauss
Literary Theorist

Professor of Semiology at College de France

The Death of the Author
The Pleasure of the Text
Roland Barthes
Professor of humanites
UC Irvine

It's not enough to know the structure!
You have to know the origin to fully understand! (1959)

Basically knocks structuralism off its pedestal.

Of Grammatology
Jacques Derrida
The idea stems from the linguistic work of Ferdinand de Saussure and Charles Sanders Pierce in the early 1900's.
Grew popular in the late 1950's and early 60's because of Claude Levi-Strauss and other intellectuals.
Paved the way for other schools of thought: Queer theory, Marxism, etc..
Important Structuralist Thinkers and Works
The history and
of structuralism

Structuralist Critique of "To Live in the Borderlands means you" by Gloria Anzaldua
invovement with other fields and theories
philosophy, anthropology, sociology, psychology, mathematics

marxist theories

General Analysis
Anzaldua purposefully uses words that correspond to different signifiers (or concepts) based on the word's derived meaning within a culture, and the audience's own relationship to the different cultures she refers to. By exposing the relationship between the meaning words are given and the audience's identification with the culture associated with a particular signifier, the author displays the futility of identifying oneself with only one race or culture. She endorses a self identification that is inclusive to all cultures, and denounces identity that embraces one culture with the exclusion of others. Without an open disposition and knowledge of the ideology other cultures through their use of language, then a person would not be able to understand this poem and many other aspects of the world that are derived from different traditions and histories.
Analysis of Words
"you are the battleground
where enemies are kin to each other;
you are at home, a stranger"
Analysis of Phrases
Anzaldua utilizes the interrelationships between signs such as "border" and "settled" and their connotations within different cultures and ideologies in order to display the diverse perspectives that make up this conflict of identity. An individual who identifies with Native American heritage and values will most likely have a different conceptual association with the sound images of "border" and "settled" then a white Tea Party member who lives near the Mexican boarder in Texas. Other conceptual dichotomies convey meaning, such as the associations with borders and settlements in the geographical and political sense versus the intellectual sense the signs can be used in when discussing personal identity.
To live in the borderlands means you

are neither hispana india negra espanola
ni gabacha, eres mestiza, mulata, half-breed
caught in the crossfire between camps
while carrying all five races on your back
not knowing which side to turn to, run from;

To live in the Borderlands means
knowing that the india in you, betrayed for 500 years,
is no longer speaking to you,
that mexicanas call you rajetas,
that denying the Anglo inside you
is as bad as having denied the Indian or Black;

Cuando vives en la frontera

people walk through you, the wind steals your voice,
you’re a burra, buey, scapegoat,
forerunner of a new race,
half and half–both woman and man, neither–
a new gender;

12 November 1915 – 26 March 1980
“…the book creates meaning, the meaning creates life.”
~Roland Barthes,
The Pleasure of the Text

“Language is no longer looked upon as an organism that develops independently but as a product of the collective mind of linguistic groups.”
~Course in General Linguistics

26 November 1857 – 22 February 1913
Professor of linguistics
at University of Geneva

Often referred to as the "father" of modern linguistics

Course in General
Linguistics (Posthumous)
Ferdinand de Saussure
28 November 1908 – 30 October 2009
...the structuralist approach; it is the quest for the invariant, or for the invariant elements among superficial differences.
Myth and Meaning. 1978.
Literary Theorists:
Vladimir Propp-
Morphology of the Folktale
Northrop Frye-
Anatomy of Criticism
Umberto Eco-
The Role of the Reader
These theorists often focus on the "Language of Literature" - the system we become fluent in as we read.
"If this work seems so threatening, this is because it isn't simply eccentric or strange, but competent, rigorously argued, and carrying conviction."
July 15, 1930 – October 9, 2004
Looking back
on the influence
of structuralism
-battleground (signified): the setting of a conflict; the piece of ground in which a battle is fought (signifier)
-kin (signified): relationship to or familiarity with someone or something; a person's family and relatives (signifier)
-home (signified): the psychological or emotional state of reassurance, trust, and understanding of one's surroundings; the place where one lives permanently (signifier)

"the boarder disputes have been settled"
To live in the Borderlands means to
put chile in the borscht,
eat whole wheat tortillas,
speak Tex-Mex with a Brooklyn accent;
be stopped by la migra at the border checkpoints;

Living in the Borderlands means you fight hard to
resist the gold elixir beckoning from the bottle,
the pull of the gun barrel,
the rope crushing the hollow of your throat;

In the Borderlands
you are the battleground
where enemies are kin to each other;
you are at home, a stranger,
the border disputes have been settled
the volley of shots have shattered the truce
you are wounded, lost in action
dead, fighting back;

To live in the Borderlands means
the mill with the razor white teeth wants to shred off
your olive-red skin, crush out the kernel, your heart
pound you pinch you roll you out
smelling like white bread but dead;

To survive the Borderlands
you must live sin fronteras
be a crossroads.
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