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Literary Criticism. Class #1. Structuralism. “ Linguistics is not simply a stimulus and source of inspiration but a methodological model which unifies the otherwise diverse projects of structuralists.” (Culler, Structuralist Poetics , 4).

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slide3

“Linguistics is not simply a stimulus and source of inspiration but a methodological model which unifies the otherwise diverse projects of structuralists.”

  • (Culler, Structuralist Poetics, 4)
slide4

Barthes: “I have been engaged in a series of structural analyses which all aim at defining a number of non-linguistic ‘languages’”

  • (Essais critiques, 155; qtd in Culler, Structuralist Poetics, 4).
publications
Publications
  • 1916

Course in General Linguistics

slide7

“the father of modern linguistics”

  • Led to “the linguistic turn” in the 20th- century history of ideas
slide9
I.
  • “The bond between the signifier and the signified is arbitrary,” not “motivated” (by natural resemblance).

(Saussure)

slide10

“The meanings we give to words are purely arbitrary, and . . . these meanings are maintained by convention only” (Barry 41).

bracketing the referent
bracketing the referent
  • =leaving out the third dimension of the sign, that to which it refers
  • Argued that language should be studied apart from the world to which it refers.
  • Language = chess?

(Norton 959)

bracketing the referent1
bracketing the referent
  • Against “reference,” essentialism, or mimetic representation, namely, one-to-one correspondence between words and things
possible exceptions
Possible exceptions
  • 1. Onomatopoeia: “shatter,” “clash,” “tick-tock,” “drip-drop”
  • 2. Interjections: “哎呀!” “Ouch!” “Damn!” “Gosh!” “Shit!”
slide16
II.
  • “In language there are only differences 差異" (Saussure, Course in General Linguistics).
  • “The meanings of words are . . . relational” (Barry 42).
slide17

The definition of any given word “depends for its precise meaning on its position in a ‘paradigmatic chain,’ that is, a chain of words related in function and meaning each of which could be substituted for any of the others in a given sentence” (Barry 42).

slide18

Vertical axis

Paradigmatic chain

syntagmatic chain

Horizontal axis

slide19

mat

bat

  • I bought my hat in an antique store.

cat

rat

slide20

hovel

shed

hut

  • Ms. Su lives in a house.

apartment

mansion

palace

slide21

Saussure’s example: “we feel the 8.25 p.m. Geneva-to-Paris Express to be the same train each day, though the locomotive, coaches, and personnel may be different. This is because the 8.25 train is not a substance but a form, defined by its relations to other trains. It remains the 8.25 even though it leaves twenty minutes late, so long as its difference from the 7.25 and the 9.25 is preserved. Although we may be unable to conceive of the train except in its physical manifestations, its identity as a social and psychological fact is independent of those manifestations” (Culler 11).

binary oppositions
Binary Oppositions
  • “Indeed, the relations that are most important in structural analysis are the simplest: binary oppositions” (Culler, 14).
slide23

good / eviloriginal / copyprimary / secondaryinside / outsidereality / appearanceessence / accident

  • http://www.lawrence.edu/dept/english/courses/60A/handouts/binaries.html
slide24

soul / bodypure / corruptedfather / sonmale / femalespeech / writing

  • http://www.lawrence.edu/dept/english/courses/60A/handouts/binaries.html
slide25

center / marginsnormal / deviantnatural / unnaturalstraight / gaywhite / blackself / other

  • http://www.lawrence.edu/dept/english/courses/60A/handouts/binaries.html
slide26

truth / fictionphilosophy / mythsciences / humanitiesclassical / romantic

modern / postmodernpoet / critichttp://www.lawrence.edu/dept/english/courses/60A/handouts/binaries.html

slide27

sex / gendermaster / slavehigh culture / pop culture

base / superstructurewaking / dreaming

latent content / manifest contentthe library / the web

  • http://www.lawrence.edu/dept/english/courses/60A/handouts/binaries.html
l homme sans t te
L’Homme Sans Tête
  • (directed by Juan Solanas)
  • Discussion: Identify the binary opposites.
the paradigmatic chain
the paradigmatic chain
  • “What goes without saying” → ideology
  • What is “conspicuous by its absence” → flout conventional expectations → value
  • (Daniel Chandler, “Semiotics for Beginners,” http://www.aber.ac.uk/media/Documents/S4B/sem05.html)
slide32
III.
  • “Language constitutes our world . . . Meaning is always attributed to the object or the idea by the human mind, and constructed by and expressed through language: it is not already contained within the things” (Barry 43).
slide34
武松打店
  • Discussion:

(1) Identify binary oppositions

(2) Discuss how language constitutes our world.

langue vs parole
Langue vs. Parole
  • Parole 話語 : an individual utterance (specific, diachronic)
  • Langue 語系: a larger system or structure (synchronic, ahistorical)

(Barry 44)

slide36

“Any actual ‘speech’ (parole) presupposes a system (langue) which is being used.”

(Selden 55)

noam chomsky
Noam Chomsky
  • Competence能力→ Langue
  • Performance表現→ Parole
semiology vs semiotics
semiology vs. semiotics
  • Semiology:
  • Semiotics:
food for thought
Food for Thought
  • What are the advantages and disadvantages of using linguistics to study other cultural phenomena?
publications1
Publications
  • 1962 The Savage Mind
  • 1962 Totemism
  • 1964-71 Mythologiques (4 vols)
  • 1978 Myth and Meaning
  • 1984 Anthropology and Myth
slide42

"Structuralism is the search for unsuspected harmonies..."

  • (Lévi-Strauss, qtd. in http://www.mnsu.edu/emuseum/information/biography/klmno/levi-strauss_claude.html)
the oedipus myth
The Oedipus Myth
  • (1) the overvaluation of kinship ties (Oedipus marries his mother; Antigone buries her brother unlawfully)
  • (2) the undervaluation of kinship (Oedipus kills his father; Eteocles kills his brother)
l vi strauss
Lévi-Strauss
  • “[T]he individual tale (the parole) from a cycle of myths did not have a separate and inherent meaning but could only be understood by considering its position in the whole cycle (the langue) and the similarities and difference between the tale ad others in the sequence” (Barry 46).
slide46

“A structural anthropologist may examine the customs and rituals of a single group of people in some remote part of the world not simply to understand them in particularbutto discover underlying similarities between their society and others”

  • (Dobie, Theory into Practice, 140)
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