Beginning Theory: An Introduction to Literary and Cultural Theory - Structuralism Summary & Analysis

Peter Barry
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Structuralism Summary and Analysis

Structuralism begins in 1950 France with the proposition that things cannot be isolated from each other. They can only be understood within the context of larger structures. Specifically, meaning is a characteristic of things that human perception and organization imposes. The meaning of things does not originate from within them. For example, Donne's poem of the twelfth-century style named "dawn song" highlights the individual and the structure. Barry compares style to the "chicken" and Donne's poem the "egg." A liberal humanist considers the egg first compared to a structuralist who determines nature of the chicken first. The 1920s Cambridge emphasis on "text-based" analysis isolated from context is reversed by structuralist emphasis in 1970s Britain and USA on the large, wider issues of structures, contexts and ideas.

Swiss linguist de Saussure develops the root of structuralism in the 1950s. Structuralism is based on...

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This section contains 373 words
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