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Poststructuralism Paper Essay Example for Free
Poststructuralism Paper Essay What is post-structuralism? How did come about and who started it? How can it be used as a strategy? It cannot be defined without a reference to Ferdinand de Saussere.Ã He is considered as the Ã¢â¬Å"creator of the modern theory of structuralism (UXL Encyclopedia of World Biography, 2003, p.1).Ã¢â¬ Ã He was responsible for what was said to have started the entire post-structuralist movement, A Course in General Linguistics.Ã He did not actually write it; his students, Charles Bally and Albert Sechehaye simply compiled and edited it for publication (UXL Encyclopedia of World Biography, 2003, p.1). Saussere considers language as a Ã¢â¬Å"system of signs that evolves constantly, in which particular words hold no meaning (UXL Encyclopedia of World Biography, 2003, p.2).Ã¢â¬ Words do not have definition on their own; they need to be involved in a kind of structure wherein together with other words, they begin to make sense.Ã Moreover, he believes that every idea or object has a sign (UXL Encyclopedia of World Biography, 2003, p.2.), which in turn, has two other parts.Ã A sign has a signifier, which refers to what a word originally looks or sounds like, while the signified refers to what is represented.Ã The connection of the two is unpredictable; it is always fluctuating.Ã This premise is basically the foundation of what is known as post-structuralism. Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Post-structuralism actually started in the 1960s in France (James, n.d., p.1).Ã It is considered both as a critical theory (Henderson and Brown, 1997, p.1), and an interdisciplinary movement (Jones, n.d., p.1) which includes other fields as well like the Ã¢â¬Å"deconstruction of Jacques Derrida, the late criticism of Roland Barthes, and the psychoanalytic revisionism of Jacques Lacan (Henderson and Brown, 1997, p.1)Ã¢â¬ just to name a few.Ã Post-structuralism has been discussed alongside postmodernism, but Peters (1999) was quick to differentiate the two: Ã¢â¬Å"Poststructuralism takes as it theoretical object structuralism, whereas postmodernism takes as its theoretical object modernism(p.1). The key word in determining its definition is structure.Ã Post-structuralism develops a new body of knowledge apart from the pre-established structures.Ã It claims that the formation of knowledge then may no longer hold now.Ã There is no such thing as an established truth; what was considered true then, might be dubious now.Ã Peters (1999) adds, Ã¢â¬Å"Poststructuralism, then, can be interpreted as a specifically philosophical response to the alleged scientific status of structuralism to its status as a mega-paradigm for the social sciences and as a movement which, under the inspiration of Friedrich Nietzsche, Martin Heidegger, and others, sought to decenter the structures, systematicity and scientific status of structuralism, to critique its underlying metaphysics and to extend it a number of different directions, while at the same time preserving central elements of structuralismÃ¢â¬â¢s critique of the humanist subject (p.1).Ã¢â¬ One of the people famous for their contribution in post-structuralism is Frenchman Michel Foucault.Ã Although he is considered as a philosopher, his work is not confined to a particular body of knowledge.Ã Throughout his career, his works covered a range of topics, which included Ã¢â¬Å"sexuality, madness, illness and knowledge (UXL Newsmakers, 2005, p.1).Ã¢â¬ Ã He is also associated with new historicism, which Henderson and Brown (1997) considers as Ã¢â¬Å"history as a species of narrative with gaps or ruptures between epistemes modes of thought and ways of knowing that characterize a given historical moment (p.1).Ã¢â¬ Ã He is not interested with history per se; rather, he is more interested in how events become part of history and what made it possible for them to be part of history.Ã Needham (1995) writes, Ã¢â¬Å"he believes that human nature, instinct, and other intrinsic underpinnings of mankind are not fixed; humans are conditioned through discourse: how we talk, how we formulate knowledge, and who we look to for knowledge. No universal certainties exist; justice, sexuality, insanity, morality all knowledge is a construction of discourse (p.1).Ã¢â¬ Ã Overall, Foucault forces us to think out of the box.Ã For him there is no such thing as truth; the structure which developed our notion of truth should be analyzed. Because there is no one stable structure that holds, all that we know is influx all the time and it is better to focus on how these ideas are formed rather than being preoccupied with the ideas themselves.Ã Because of his post-structuralist ideals, many feminists are turning to him to further their cause.Ã His ideals help them challenge what was then regarded as true about women in patriarchal discourses.Ã One of the women who have been regarded for her feminist efforts is Mary McLeod Bethune.Ã Unlike Foucault, she is not an intellectual.Ã Smith (1996) calls her Ã¢â¬Å"essentially an activist (p.1),Ã¢â¬ and rightfully so. Her works is not even limited to women, though she pushes for their opportunities to.Ã All her life she has fought for the rights of her fellow African-Americans, and released the literary work My Last Will and Testament which is one of the most influential African-American literature out there.Ã She dared to push the envelope for her race, and defied the odds to help her race Ã¢â¬Å"maintain racial dignity (Smith, 1996, p.105).Ã¢â¬ Ã S he made sure African-American girls can also be educated like their fair-skinned counterparts.Ã She opened a school for girls in 1904, which became the Bethune-Cookman College (Smith, 1996, p.106).Ã At first glance, she may not seem to be a post-structuralist, but she is.Ã Instead of conforming to the existing structures available to her race that operate in society, she tried to create new possibilities.Ã That is a move that is post-structuralist, indeed. Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Ã Post-structuralism as a strategy is simple; all that needs to be done is to challenge the existing premises by trying to get to the root of the very same premises.Ã In a post-structuralist sense, the normative condition is taken as such, but not considered stable or fixed.Ã It is like one of the possible scenarios, not the only one.Ã In essence, post-structuralism defines the possibility of many other structures, any of which are neither true or false.Ã From the examples established by Michel Foucault and Mary McLeod Bethune, one must not be satisfied with what is out there.Ã There should always be a need to ask important questions and look for other solutions.Ã The status quo is no longer; the possibilities are endless. References Henderson, G. E., Brown, C. (1997). Glossary of Literary Theory. University of Toronto English Library. Jones, R. (n.d). Post-structuralism. Retrieved November 16, 2007, from www.philosopher.org.uk/poststr.htm. Needham, A. (1995). Foucaltphobia-philosopher Michel Foucault. Whole Earth Review, n.v.,1. Peters, M. (1999). Post-structuralism and education. Retrieved November 16, 2007, from www.ffst.hr/ENCYCLOPAEDIA/poststructuralism.htm. Smith, E. M. (1996). Mary McLeod BethuneÃ¢â¬â¢s Ã¢â¬Å"Last Will and Testament:Ã¢â¬ A Legacy for Race Vindication. The Journal of Negro History, 81 (1/4), 105-122. UXL Encyclopedia of World Biography (2003). UXL Newsmakers (2005).