Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Letter to Mom (Or, Crash Course in Modern and Postmodern Literary Theory: The Most Comprehensive Hyperlinked Glossary Ever Assembled)-- Lesson Two

Cluster 4: Post-structuralists and Deconstruction

OK, Mother, here’s the next installment. I’m running out of time, though, so there’ll be even less explaining here than in the previous post. Also, keep in mind that some of the links might not exactly match up with the terms.

Last week we discussed the first three clusters. Today we’ll do the next three, starting with post-structuralism and deconstruction. You’ll recall from last week that structuralism— post-structuralism’s predecessor— and semiotics overlap in many regards. Just to review, take a quick look at this explanation of semiotics.

Sometimes used synonymously, post-structuralism and deconstruction fit under the larger heading of antihumanism. Some of its key figures are Jacque Derrida, Roland Barthes, Michel Foucault, Jean-Francois Lyotard and Julia Kristeva. Derrida’s key concepts of deconstruction are presence/absence, supplement, alterity, decentering, play (aka ludism), binary opposition, logocentrism, and margin. Also look into Derrida’s notion of white mythology and sous rature (or under erasure, in English).

Next you’ll want to check out Franco-Bulgarian philosopher Tzvetan Todorov and his theories of literature-as-palimpsest, fantasy and the fantastic, and the uncanny.

Then there are the Yale critics, most notably Paul de Man and Harold Bloom. You’ll want to look into Paul de Man’s notion of “rhetorical reading” and his distrust of formalism. Some of Bloom’s key terms are revisionism, the anxiety of influence, strong poets vs. weak poets, creative misprision, the canon, and agon.

Also look into J. Hillis Miller’s notion of the linguistic moment, and Jean Baudrillard’s silmulacrum.

You’ll also want review J.L. Austin and John Searle’s ideas about speech act, performatives, discourse analysis, and illocutionary and perlocutionary acts. Keep in mind that their theories were heavily influenced by the logical positivism of Ludwig Wittgenstein.

Cluster 5: Reception Theory

Cluster 5 is concerned with Reception Theory and three of its major theoreticians: Hans Robert Jauss, Hans-Georg Gadamer and Norman Holland.German scholar Jauss is best known for his reception theory and reader response criticism, and for his notion of the horizons of expectation. German philosopher Gadamer is known for his horizons of meaning, the informed reader, and oppositional reading. Finally, there's American critic Norman Holland, who's also made significant contributions to reader response theory. Also try to remember these basic terms of reader response theory.
Cluster 6: Narratology

For this cluster, we’ll start with Russian formalist Vladimir Propp and his key terms: folklore, protagonist, morphology of the folk tale, and his conception of narratology.

Next is French theorist Gerard Genette, another major theorist of narratology. You’ll want to pay extra attention to his terms focalization and zero focalization (i.e., omniscient narrator), mood and interpolation, paralipsis and apophasis, anachrony (i.e., prolepsis, or narrator’s anticipation) and analepsis (i.e., narrator’s recollection), and verisimilitude. Also have a look at his notion of the focalizer. You'll also need to learn the various kinds of rhetorical tropes (eg, irony, metonymy, metaphor, synechdote).

I’m really running out time so we’re going to have to rush through the rest of the terms: analepsis (flashback) and prolepsis (flashforward), and mimesis and diagesis.

Also have a look at this introduction to genre theory, and some of its terms, including discourse and story, and free indirect discourse (aka, the Uncle Charles principle).

Also, scenic method (dramatic method) and syncretism.

Lastly, you’ll want to get acquainted with Lithuanian linguist Algirdas Julien Greimas and his theory of narratology, and his notion of the actant.

Next week we'll continue with clusters 7, 8, 9 and 10.

Your dutiful son,


Anonymous said...

This isn't for your mother, you lying sack of shit. It's for yourself. You were supposed to learn this in college but didn't because you were too busy drinking vodka and smoking dope.

Don't you think for one minute that this counts as a birthday present for Mother. I expect a decent present with a use-value of at least $100 and an exchange-value of at least $80 (to put it in Marxian terms).

-Your father

Anonymous said...

Your father's more of a bully than me!

-Ian Hogarth

Anonymous said...

You might want to add to this list Deleuze and Guattari's notion of "minor literature"