5 Critical Approaches to Literature

Topics: Literary criticism, Literary theory, Structuralism Pages: 3 (853 words) Published: March 23, 2007
5 Critical Approaches to Literature

Structuralist- Is a theory of a human kind thought to be parts of a system of signs. It is described as a reaction to "modernist" alteration and despair. It is heavily influenced by linguistics especially by the work of Ferdinand de Saussure. Useful was Saussure's concept of phoneme which is the smallest basic speech sound or unit of pronunciation, the idea that phoneme exists in two kinds of relationships (diachronic and synchronic). Diachronic is a "horizontal" relationship with the other phonemes that precede and follow it in a particular usage, ulterance, or narrative. Synchronic is a "vertical" relationship with the entire system of language within which individual usages, ulterances, or narratives have meaning. Mythemes are also part of structuralism, which are myths broken into the smallest meaningful units. Most structuralists followed Saussure's methods of overriding langue (tongue/language), or language of myth in which each mytheme and mytheme- constituted myth fits meaningfully, rather than about isolated individual paroles or narratives. Structuralists believe that sign systems must be understood in terms of binary oppositions. Opposite terms modulate until they are finally resolved or reconciled by an intermediary third term. Struturalism was largely a European phenomenon in its origin and development but was influenced structuralism.

Deconstructionist- Involves the close reading of texts in order to demonstrate any given text has irreconcilably contradictory meanings rather than being unified as a whole. It is explained as "not a dismantling of a text but a demonstration that it has already dismantled itself." Deconstruction was created and was profoundly influenced by the French philosopher on language, Jacques Derrida. It was argued that in Western Culture, people tend to think in binary oppositions; white but not black, masculine and therefore not feminine, a cause rather than an effect....
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