Lily Huang
Research and Bibliography
Dec. 21, 1999; source
An Outline 
  1. Introduction

  2. "Deconstruction is a form of textual practice derived from the work of the French philosopher Jacques Derrida which aims to demonstrate the inherent instability of both language and meaning" (A Handbook to Literary Research, 131). Deconstruction rejects the word "analysis" or "interpretation" as well as it rejects any assumption of texts. 
II. Primary and secondary reading: in this section, Dr. Sim offers a list of bibliography of deconstruction with brief introduction.
  1. Primary reading.
    1. Derrida, Jacques. Writing and Difference. Chicago: Chicago UP, 1979.
    2. ---. Of Grammatology. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP, 1976.
    3. ---. Margins of Philosophy. Brighton: Harvester P, 1982.
    4. ---. Positions. London: Athlone, 1981.
    5. ---. The Post Card: From Socrates to Freud and Beyond. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1987.
    6. ---. The Truth in Painting. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1987.
    7. ---. Spectres of Marx: The State of the Debt, the Work of Mourning, and the

    8. New International. London: Routledge, 1994.
    9. Bloom, Harold, ed. Deconstruction and Criticism. London: Routledge, 1979.
    10. Hartman, Geoffrey. Saving the Text. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP, 1981.
  1. Secondary reading.
    1. Culler, Jonathan. On Deconstruction. London: Routledge, 1983.
    2. Sarup, Madan. An Introductory Guide to Post-Structuralism and Postmodernism. London: Harvester Wheatsheaf, 1993.
    3. Norris, Christopher. Deconstruction: Theory and Practice. London: Methuen, 1982.
    4. ---. The Deconstructive Turn. London: Methuen, 1983.
    5. ---. Contest of Faculties. London: Methuen, 1985.
    6. ---. Derrida. London: Fontana, 1987.
    7. Staten, Henry. Wittgenstein and Derrida. Oxford: Blackwell, 1985.
    8. Ryan, Michael. Marxism and Deconstruction: ACriticalArticulation. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP, 1982.
    9. Hogan, Patrick Colm. The Politics of Interpretation: Ideology, Professionalismand the Study of Literature. New York: Oxford UP, 1990.
III. Deconstruction and structuralism: deconstruction is regarded as a form of anti-structuralism.
  1. How does deconstruction rejects structuralism? 
    1. Both of them develop from semiotics and Saussurean linguistics.
    2. But "deconstruction rejects most of the assumptions of structuralism-particularly its systematic approach to texts and methodical forms of analysis."
    3. It rejects "binary opposition in structuralism on the grounds that such oppositions always privilege one term over the other-signified over signifier."
    4. Structuralism assumes that there must be an essential structure in a text. But to Derrida, it is to set up certain assumptions at first and then to analyze or to collect interpretations that fit to previous assumptions.
    5. Structuralism is the example of logocentricity of Western cultural discourse, "the belief that sounds, and words, are representations of meanings already present in the speaker's mind." 
  1. Where is meaning?
    1. Derrida opposes the idea that "meanings can be fully present to individuals in their minds, without slippage of any kind of occurring."
    2. He thinks that "meaning is neither before nor after the act."
    3. "Meaning is not present in a text." It depends on "the individual reader." Because their different life experience and reading experience, each reader will have their own meanings when they read a text" (133).
  1. What does Derrida really fight against?
    1. "Derrida wants a free play of meaning; this suggests that it is not just logocentricity that Derrida is setting himself against, but Western culture's commitment to rationality and liner thought."
    2. "Derrida's argument is that structuralists are imposing a form on textual material, and that such a practice puts limits on human creativity" (134).
 IV. Derrida's concepts: It is difficult for critics to "pin down the conceptual basis of his [Derrida's] argument.
  1. Derrida complicates the terms he uses in speech; for example, "difference" could mean "difference" or "deferral". This is an example that he uses to prove that there is always a slippage of meaning.
  2. Rather than interpret obscure meanings for the puzzled readers, his job or his idea is to make meanings proliferate.
  3. "What deconstructionists set out to reveal is the strength of the signifier vis-a-vis a signified that tries to enclose it" (135). 
  4. "Interpretation no longer aims at the reconciliation or unification of warring truths."
V. Deconstructive critical discourse: It is a game of language.
  1. For example, puns. A pun has multiple meanings in the same discourse though not everyone can receive all the meanings it contains. Every listener will at least receive one, and what he or she receives can be different from each other, "full of inherent instability".
  2. "The argument is that such a free associative, almost stream of consciousness method of writing is less authoritarian than traditional criticism, where the critic is seen to mediate between text and reader: the argument is that it creates-rather than recovers, fixes, or closes off-meaning" (136).
VI. The politics of deconstruction. 
  1. "Deconstruction is a useful corrective to this all-too-common tendency, although its anarchic-looking procedures might themselves be seen to have their own socio-political commitments. To wish to escape from the world of authority and value into a world of innocence of becoming has, one might suggest, definite ideological connotations" (137).
  2. What is the relationship between deconstruction and Marxism? In Derrida's Spectres of Marx, "he proceeds to argue for deconstruction as a inheritor of the liberationist credentials of Marxism" (137).
VII. Conclusion: 
"How far down this road one can follow Derrida without collapsing into a self defeating solipsism and private language is, however, an interesting question to ponder. It might also be objected that if Language is as marked by indeterminacy as deconstruction claims, then it is difficult to see how it can establish this indeterminacy through the use of language: some sort of logical paradox would seem to be involved at that point" (137).
from Handbook to Literary Research.
Eds. Simon Eliot and W.R. Owens.  NY: Routledge in Association with Open U, 1998