CLA260H1 Lecture Notes - Lecture 5: Literary Theory, Narratology, Deep Structure And Surface Structure

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Published on 11 Sep 2012
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Literary Theory
July 18/12
Challenges include:
Complex language: ‘performative’ texts; specialized terminology
Theoretical works often come from other disciplines, especially philosophy
Counter-intuitive theories
Classics is traditionally very conservative: lots of time spent on learning Greek
Ferdinand de Saussure, course in General Linguistics
Lange parole (individual utterances)
Saussure’s sign dealt with the signifier and the signified
Meaning established by difference
Focus on the deep structure of texts; context is less important
De-centering of author
Focus on structure
Levi-Strauss Analysis of Oedipus
Looking for a structure
What are the common links?
Over-relating of blood relations (being too close to your family)
People killing each other under relating blood relations
Killing mythical creatures
Troubled walking
People who are autocthonus have trouble walking
I.e. Creatures like the Sphinx
Structuralism is pretty arbitrary
Motifs can be structuralist
Kind of passe now
Deep structures rather than poetic texture
Narratology deals with the structure of narrative
Different kinds of narrators
Extradiegetic = not in the story
Intradiegetic = within the story
Heterodiegetic = within the story telling about someone else
Homodiegetic = telling story about self
Every text has a narrator
Levels of audience - who is being addressed
Narratology can map out relations
Anticipation (prolepsis) “before
Flashback (analysis) “behind
Focalisation - through whose eyes we receive story
Post-structuralism/critical theory
Derrida - deconstruction
Differance: difference, deferral “there is nothing outside of text”
Breaking down of binaries (e.g. Man/woman, body/soul, nature/culture); how texts contradict
themselves and “come unstuck” (aporias)
Literary Theory
July 18/12
Everything is explained via texts
Foucault: histories of sexuality, power, institutions
“We are Greeks because we are not Barbarians
“A man is not womanly
Taking apart power structures
Questioning foundations
Deconstruction can be arbitrary
How do definitions fall apart, how are they inconsistent
Deconstructive, not constructive
Structuralists like hierarchies, post-structuralism shows how hierarchies do not work
Foucault - important to classics, writes about ancient world
How power works, how we give into it
Sometimes more constructive, sometimes deconstructive
Quellenforschung - source criticism
Languages as “a mosaic of questions”; all language is intertextuality
Texts refer to other texts
Authorial intention (“the art of allusion”) vs reader response
Individual points of contact vs large scale intertextual projects (e.g. Roman epic)
The effect of intertextuality: extra layers of meaning; subversion
Some examples of Epic intertextuality:
Relationship between homeric poems and later epic poems, particularly Virgils Aeneid
Relationship between Vergil’s Aeneid and Statius Thebaid (“be content, my Thebaid,
to follow after the footsteps of the divine Aeneid”)
He responds to Virgil, who responds to Homer, etc
Ovid’s parodies of earlier poems
Battle of Mice and Frogs - written in homeric style
Can be accidental - author vs reader
Alexandrian Footnote
Hellenistic poetry
A signal to the reader that author is alluding to previous work
I.e. In Metamorphoses Daphne asks for virginity, as Diana was given, as said by Callimachus
Ovid is alluding to Callimachus via Daphne
“I remember” - referring to other texts
A sort of game
Freud and Lacan
Freud: the unconscious, ego, superego, id; Oedipus complex
Lacan: the unconscious is structure like a language
A sort of blend of Freud and Saussure
Elten Oiliness: the textual unconscious; a structure excess beyond the text’s words
Gender studies
Departure points: gender is not natural, but socially constructed
Literary Theory
July 18/12
Anglo american feminists literary theory vs post-structuralists french feminism vs post-struc-
turalist french feminism
Judith Butler: “sex” is constructed too; woman is an unstable category
Barbara Gold: a space where the mute push through the fabric of the text
Hearing less dominant voices