History repeating itself and Literature...hmmm...

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Quote #1: "Structuralism is best seen as both symptom of and reaction to the social and linguistic crisis" (Eagleton 122).

Quote #2: "Post-structuralism was a product of that blend of euphoria and disillusionment, liberation and dissipation, carnival and catastrophe, which was 1968" (123).

These two quotes made everything clear for me while I was reading this chapter on post-structuralism.

I related post-structuralism to the history of the United States.

The first quote reminded me of how our society poses a problem or stereotype and then they also represent the social crisis. Would you agree?

Now onto my second quote. I think that post-structuralism displays signs of how our 20th century was formed. We have disillusionment because people, in the early 1900's, were unsure of what the future would hold. I am referencing technology, the economy, and government policies. We have a period of liberation that brings people to invest and believe in the culture and people of our society. Finally, we have catastrophe on September 11, 2001 and also recently when the stock market melted down by over 50%.

Now would you agree that post-structuralism is similar to our history?

I also feel that post-structuralism authors focused on specific areas of interest. This would include slavery, race, and government. Eagleton refers to Barthes as "analyzing, acting, and changing the structures of society" (123). We saw/heard people just like this. Take Martin Luther King, Jr. and Maya Anglou, for example, who analyed, acted, and changed parts of the world.

This text, by Eagleton, made me realize how important literature is to our history and future. We have based our way of thinking, in a literature viewpoint, upon how society reacts to events that we have to encounter.

So, is post-structuralism a representation of history or does it give authors a starting point for writing and criticizing a text?

Click here for the web page devoted to Eagleton.

6 Comments

I definately see post-structuralism as a reaction to our history. We actually just went over this in American Literature. Dr. Patterson talked to us about how the history impacted literary criticism (and Katie and I grimmaced). The chaotic history and the wanting to overturn power structures was a giant contributing factor to post-structuralism.

My personal feeling, though, is that it is unfair to try to overturn all the structures that an author works so hard to set up. I don't know. What do you think? Why post-structuralism?

Derek, I personally do not think that post-structuralism is a representation of any specific historical event. Yes, the riots in 1968 in France expedited its creation, but as you pointed out, we could replace that specific historical event with almost any other. Post-structuralism is a way of breaking down the established ways of studying literature, even as the people were unable to do anything about their governmental establishments. So I suppose in that sense the two are similar, but I think it’s important to be clear that it is not a reaction to any one specific historical event (even though Eagleton kind of seems to think it is). All people suffer disillusionment as you pointed out. I’m not sure that post-structuralism focuses on specific areas of interest though, Eagleton mentioned on page 121 that poets had began, “not writing for a particular purpose on a specific topic, as in the age of ‘classical’ literature, but writing as an end and a passion in itself.” What do you think?

Angela- I think that the overturning of power structures may be a result of the U.S. finding its identity and growing as a country. I think that post-structuralism lends out to the struggles that our country has had to face in order to become a more unified country and society.

Gretta- Yes, we can replace it with any other type of criticism, but history gives way to many events that a reader or audience can relate to. I like the quote that you added because it allows us to understand how writing is a way to end the harm or problems of the past and to create or give way to a future that is full of equal access and less problems.

To both of you- Do you think that Post-Structualism is a beginning of an end. In other words, does it help an author start writing and then led them into a new form of criticism?

Thanks for the great comments!

What do you think Derek? (A.K.A. I have no idea.) I really did not understand post-structuralism. I don't see the point behind it. Can either of you two help me?

I agree with Greta, I don't think that post-structuralism is connected to a specific historical event. If it were, would we be able to use it in the literature written before that specific historical event?

Although I do think you can use their school of thoughts in different aspects of our cultures, I don't think they go hand in hand with one another.

Can you explain your question about the beginning of the end further? I'm not sure I understand what you mean exactly.

Bethany - You bring up a very interesting idea. If we used literature before a specific historical event, then that event would not exist. I think that when we look at history overall, then we can use it as a structure or basis of writting or criticizing literature.

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This page contains a single entry by Derek Tickle published on March 21, 2009 9:41 AM.

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