Structuralism as a Literary Movement Essay

Structuralism as a Literary Movement Essay

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Structuralism as a literary movement first emerged in the 1960s in the field of linguistics. It expanded to other areas of studies as well by philosophers such as Louis Althusser in Marxist theory, Roland Barthes in literary studies, Jacques Lacan in psychoanalysis, Gerard Genette in narratology, and Claude Levi-Strauss in anthropology. This paper focuses on Strauss’s Structure and Dialectics, Genette’s Five Types of Transtextuality, and Barthes’s The Death of the Author. Also, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1818) is taken as an example to explain these structuralist methods.
Ferdinand de Saussure, founder of structuralist linguistics, defined language as a “system of signs.” He proposed the components signifier and signified which makes a sign. Signifier is the sound-image and signified is the concept or meaning. Levi-Strauss based his study of myth on structural linguistics. In his essay, Structure and Dialectics, he observes the relationship between myth and ritual. Generally, either myth is seen as the “ideological projection of a rite” or ritual as “dramatized illustration of the myth.” However, this homology is not always true. Strauss employs the dialectical relationship between myth and ritual to substantiate his observation. According to him, myth is structured in terms of binary oppositions to produce meaning. Strauss was not concerned with the sequential order of events or content in the plot but the occurrence of binary pairs in the structure of the text. In anthropological study, binary oppositions form the fundamental component of all socio-cultural institutions which include literature, religion, economy, etc. The comparison between myth and ritual should not be restricted...


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...Web. 26 Oct. 2013.
Genette, Gerard. “Voice.” Narrative Discourse. Trans. Jane E. Lewin. New York: Cornell University
Press, 1983.n.pag. Google Book Search. Web. 26 Oct. 2013.
Gilbert, Sandra and Susan Gubar. “Infection in the Sentence: The Woman Writer and the Anxiety of
Authorship.” The Madwoman in the Attic. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1984.45-92. Print.
Levi-Strauss, Claude. “Structure and Dialectics.” Structural Anthropology. Trans. Claire Jacobson
and Brooke Schoepf. New York: Basic Books, Inc, n.d. 232-241. 4shared. Web. 27 Oct. 2013.
Saussure de, Ferdinand. Course in General Linguistics. Trans. Wade Baskin. New York: McGraw-Hill
Book Company, n.d.n.pag. 4shared. Web. 26 Oct.2013.
Shelley, Mary. Frankenstein, or Modern Prometheus. Ed. Maya Joshi. Delhi. Worldview, 2008. Print.



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