Thorpe, James. the Aims and Methods of Scholarship in Modern Lang...

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Thorpe, James. the Aims and Methods of Scholarship in Modern Languages and Literature

By | Feb. 2013
Page 1 of 16
STRUCTURALISM is a theoretical paradigm emphasizing that elements of culture must be understood in terms of their relationship to a larger, overarching system or structure. It works to uncover all the structures that underlie all the things that humans do, think, perceive, and feel. Alternately, as summarized by philosopher Simon Blackburn, Structuralism is "the belief that phenomena of human life are not intelligible except through their interrelations. These relations constitute a structure, and behind local variations in the surface phenomena there are constant laws of abstract culture".[1] Structuralism originated in the early 1900s, in the structural linguistics of Ferdinand de Saussure and the subsequent Prague,[2]Moscow[2] and Copenhagen schools of linguistics. In the late 1950s and early '60s, when structural linguistics was facing serious challenges from the likes of Noam Chomsky and thus fading in importance, an array of scholars in the humanities borrowed Saussure's concepts for use in their respective fields of study. French anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss was arguably the first such scholar, sparking a widespread interest in Structuralism.[1] The structuralist mode of reasoning has been applied in a diverse range of fields, including anthropology, sociology, psychology, literary criticism, economics and architecture. The most prominent thinkers associated with structuralism include Lévi-Strauss, linguist Roman Jakobson, and psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan. As an intellectual movement, structuralism was initially presumed to be the heir apparent to existentialism. However, by the late 1960s, many of structuralism's basic tenets came under attack from a new wave of predominantly French intellectuals such as the philosopher and historian Michel Foucault, the philosopher and social commentatorJacques Derrida, the Marxist philosopher Louis Althusser, and the literary critic Roland Barthes.[2] Though elements of their work necessarily relate to...