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What is Post Structuralism?

What is Post Structuralism?


Post Structuralism is a tale of twentieth century, in philosophy and literary criticism, which is difficult summarize but  generally defines itself in its opposition to the popular Structuralism movement which proceeded in 1950s and 1960s France. It is closely related to post modernism, although the two concepts are not synonymous. In post Structuralist approach to textual analysis, the reader replaces the author as the primary subject of enquiry and without a central fixtion on the author, post Structuralist examines other sources for meaning which are therefore never authoritative, and promise no consistency. A readers culture and society shares at least an equal part in the interpretation of a place to the cultural and social circumstances of the author. Some of the key assumptions of Post Structuralism includes-


  • The concept of self as a singular and coherent entity in a fictional construct and an individual rather comprises conflicting tension and knowledge claim. The interpretation of meaning of a text is therefore dependent on a readers own personal concept of itself. 

  • An author intended meaning is secondary to the meaning that the reader perceive and the literary text has no single purpose meaning or existence. 

  • It is necessary to utilise a variety of prospective to create a multi faceted interpretation of a text, even if this interpretation conflict with one another. 



Post Structuralism emerged in France during 1960s accompanied by a resurgence of interest in Feminism, Western Marxism, Phenomenology and Nihilism. Many prominent Post Structuralist such as Jacques Derrida, Michel Foucault, Ronald Barthes were initially Structuralist but later came to reject most of structuralism's claim, particularly it's nation of the fixity of the relationship between the signifier and signified, but also over all grandness of the theory, which seemed to promise everything and yet not quite to deliver.

In 1966 Lecture 'Structure, Sign and Play' in the discourse of the human science, Derrida was one of the first to propose some theoretical limitation to structuralism and identified an apparent De-stabilising  or De-Centering in intellectual life which came to be known as Post Structuralism. Ronald Barthe in his 'The Death of the Author' argued that any literary text has multiple meanings and that the author was not the prime source of the works Semantic Content. In his another work elements of semiology he also advanced the concept of meta language, a systemised way of talking about concepts like meaning and grammar beyond the constraint of traditional language. 

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