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[Literary Criticism / Internet Assisted Courses / English Department ]

Important concepts and Topics

    A.  structuralist linguistics: Saussure's langue and parole; signifier and signified binary opposition
    B.  structuralist analysis of narrative (narratology):
    C.  structuralist poetics: Roman Jakobson's metaphor and metonymy
    D. Barthes' semiotics (theory of signs)

A. structuralist linguistics: Saussure's langue and parole; signifier and signified binary opposition

    1. Premise 前提--Anti-humanism
      1. The author is dead.
      2. Structuralism finds out the grammar of literary works.

    2. Saussure's Language Theory
      1. langue and parole
      2. langue and parole--the language system and the individual utterance
        <<--object of structuralist study: langue; the system of rules, the grammar, underlying literary works>>
      3. sign = signifier and signified
      How language refers to things
        sign = signifier--signified; the relation between is arbitrary (e.g. red = stop, green = go);
        meaning is not fixed. A signifier means by its difference from the other signifiers.
        (Green and LeBihan)-on signification
      signifier + signified = sign--referent
        Saussure "The linguistic sign unites, not a thing and a name, but a concept and a sound-image. . . The two elements are intimately united, and each recalls the other.
        "The linguistic sign is arbitrary. It is unmotivated, i.e. arbitrary in that it actually has no natural connection with the signified."   What about Onomatopoeia, 象形文字?
      signifier + signified -referent triad: The inclusion of the concept within the triad of signification suggests that there is no natural or immediate relation between the words and the 'thing.'
      1. binary opposition
      2. -- Underlying our use of language is a system, a pattern of paired opposites, or binary oppositions.--or a system of differences
        -- Signs work not by referring to things but by taking up a position within a system of signs. No word has meaning on its own: there is always present in each word all the synonymous and antithetical terms in relation to which they are all used by speakers.
        -- In Saussure's model, the arbitrary linking of signifier and signified is forgotten in the practice of actual speakers who behave as if a sign were a perfect unity, but in Lacan and others the signifier's arbitrariness determines the whole operation of signification.
        e. g. the opposition between the old man and the river in
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B. structuralist analysis of narrative (narratology): I. narrative structure: Vladmir Propp and Greimas II. thematic structure: scapegoat; Oedipus complex (e.g. model: Levi Strauss's over-evaluation of kinship and under-evaluation of kindship )

III. structure of narration (narrator-narratee)

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C.  structuralist poetics: Roman Jakobson's metaphor and metonymy back to top

D. Barthes' semiotics (theory of signs)
    reference: Structuralism and Semiotics pp. 123-134 (focus: 123-25; 130-34)
    e. g. national flag, ads of your choice
    reference: R. Barthes "Myth Today"
    1. All social practices as sign-systems. E.g. clothes
      1. He regards all social practices as sign-systems which operate on the model of language. Any actual 'speech' presupposes a system (langue) which is being used.

      2. e.g. sentence: an ensemble of blouse + skirt + high heeled shoes
        blouse + trousers + snickers

        system: a. blouse, shirt, T-shirt
        b. skirt, trousers
      on Punk Style
    2. primary signification & secondary signification (e.g. in myth, literature, advertisement)
    3. signifier + signified = sign (full)--denotation
      form + content = sign --connotation
      primary signification:
      sign (rose) = signifier (rose) + signified (passion)
      + my intention + social conventions = secondary signification:
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