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March 26, 2007

EL312: Rip it up, break it down

Deconstructive criticism, then, is poststructural in at least three senses: it comes after structuralism; it deconstructs the central concept of "structure"; yet at the same time it continues many of the key ideas of structuralism, among them the ideas that humans are signifying creatures, that human culture is a system of sign systems, and that the source and pattern for these systems is language. (349-50)

Oh, Keesey, you've helped me so much with this one. I think the whole intro to chapter six could have been whittled down to just this passage and a few other key points and I would have been ready to take on Derrida face first. But that's just me...

The concepts of the sign/signifier/signified is something I had to learn a bit about when I was helping Dr. Patterson as her research assistant last semester. Her dissertation (that will be published shortly) dealt with some literary works that relied heavily on the concepts of sign systems--Toni Morrison's "Jazz," for example. While I've still not had a chance to read that story, as I was reading through the criticism for her and highlighting points of interest I strained what I could from the text about this curious way of seeing reality.

Deconstructive criticism, though, breaks apart the elements of the story into the pieces of language that they are--showing the words for what they represent. I find this not only fascinating, but also sort of "heady." I find it easy to lose myself in thought on this subject. My thoughts might all be sitting on the tip of my tongue or poised at the edge of my pencil, but trying to articulate them can be an issue. And Keesey explains that this, too, is one of the issues of the limitations of explaining language WITH language. Beauty in words that find their definition in words?

Keesey, Ch 6 (Introduction) -- Jerz EL312 (Literary Criticism)

Posted by KarissaKilgore at March 26, 2007 2:45 PM


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