Introduction 5/14/2013 3:03:00 PM
What is theory?
Context and analysis
“A theory must be more than a hypothesis: it can‟t be obvious; it
involves complex relations of a systematic kind among a number of
factors; and it is not easily confirmed or disproved.” Jonathan
Culler, Literary Theory: A Very Short Introduction, 2-3.
Theory is often a pugnacious critique of common-sense notions,
and further, an attempt to show that what we take for granted as
„common sense‟ is in fact a historical construction, a particular
theory that has come to seem so natural to us that we don‟t even
see it as a theory. As a critique of common sense and exploration of
alternative conceptions, theory involves a questioning of the most
basic premises or assumptions of literary study, the unsettling of
anything that might have been taken for granted: what is meaning?
What is an author? What is it to read? What is the T or subject who
writes, reads, or acts? How do texts relate to the circumstances in
which they are produced?”
Why don‟t some people like theory?
- specialized language
- elitist or pretentious
Why should we read theory anyway?
- Jillian Michaels (comfortable with getting uncomfortable)
- Actively engage
- Look at our believes closely and ask questions
What does theory have to do with literature?
Analysis of a literary work
Analysis of modes of analysis, that can apply to literature and to many other
Reading actively rather than passively
Do the work of interpretation
Theory is picking apart ambiguity Some interpretations are stronger, endless interpretations. Theory opens
potential rather than closes them.
- terror of water
- Marxist (sold to mystification, supernatural evil at work, and the capitalist
- Feminist (young woman, sex, punished for sex)
- Psychoanalytic (ultimate destructive force, amity- consensus function as
super evil, trying to regulate us. Phallic imagery. Shark is the bad father)
- Queer Theory (Brody is afraid of water, walk on the beach, not getting
near the water, deep seeded fear. Re-masculinizes when he gets into the
water to defeat the shark.)
- Ecocritical (relationships with nature, human relationship with nature is
Context of the course
Sigmund Freud (1856-1939)
Karl Marx (1818-1883)
Changed the idea of what it means to be human
Writing at great upheaval
James Joyce, Finnegan‟s Wake
Conditions of rising modernity
Plato (Moral, reject poets)
Aristotle (poetry is better at communicating universal truth, creative rather
Terms to remember:
Logos (human language is related to logos, gods, transcendent) Humanism (human experience more so than the divine world, secularism.)
The subject (human subject, humanist subject. Individual who possesses
unique consciousness and enter to different relationships. History of racial
discrimination and patriarchy- white male. Late 18 century: romanticism,
emotion rather than reason, power of creative individual, emotion is
The sublime (transcendent thing. Greatness beyond measure. Relationship
with the divine, overwhelming grand scene of nature. True and transparent)
3 goals for the course
- Introduce to major schools of theory
- Read theory as the text the way you do literary work. Suggest possible
meanings, appreciate and analyze language, formal elements (structure,
imagery, diction). Write analysis clearly.
- Begin to understand theory shapes literature and culture.
Themes of the Course
- Language and writing. Use language in deliberate ways to reflect
theoretical concerns. (polemic, simple, complicated) Notice writing style.
- Exposing assumptions that underlay things and conditions. Destabilize.
Challenge authority, major structures of believe and relationships.
- Change interpretations
- Machines no consciousness.
- variations, haven‟t changed that much.
- Australian- question this definition of ethics. Instead ability to feel pain and
suffering to define. Movement: explore and redefine what human and animal
means. Peter Singer. Destabilize naturalized idea that humans have absolute
power because humans can reason.
Course Structure “Much postmodern (theoretical) engagement with culture emerges from the
yearning to do intellectual work that connects with habits of being, forms of
artistic expression, and aesthetics that inform the daily life of writers and
scholars as well as a mass population”
- Bello Hooks, “Postmodern Blackness,” Norton 2516 Critical Voices: Eliot, Barthes, Eagleton 5/14/2013 3:03:00 PM
T.S. Eliot 1888-1965
Poet, Playwright, Essayist/Critic, Editor, Banker
Tried to convince everyone he‟s British.
Harvard. BA. Checkered academic career
All of the references are piling up. Epic poem.
Loss of faith in traditional forms. Conventional structures. These
were not able to convey modernity. Alienation. Industrialization.
Eliot is fascist sympathizer. Anti-semantic.
Traditional and the individual
“Tradition and the Individual Talent”
New Criticism/ Formalism
Influenced Anglo-american critic
Separate biography, political context. Depersonalize literary criticism.
Not spending a ton of new criticism in this course
1) Intentional fallacy. Separating author from the text. Text has a life of
2) Close-reading. Language is different. Literariness is different. Organic
unity. Attention to form.
Poise and voice. Authoritative voice. Certain about what he‟s saying.
Clear and forceful. Coherent. Addressing the essay. Setting tradition and
individual talent. Third part he sums it up. Organized piece of writing.
- Redefining “Tradition” (takes original word and spin them in a different
way) Traditional as an insult. Individual talent arrives from a vacuum.
Come from a muse, arise spontaneously from genius.
- Arnold says that Religion and Literature is the same.
- But he thinks that 2 separate things. Not transcendence. Inspiration
comes from nature, or emotions. This belief in inspiration that pretends
not to be a theory. That we all have critical lenses through which we
explore literature. Be reflexive. Interrogate our own critical lenses.
Pg 956 “one of the facts that might come… immortality most vigorously.”
- When we write, we write in response to other works?
- Historical sense? History shapes what you write, because it shapes
- Tone. Negative? Or positive? - Does not bring you closer to the truth. Emergence. To be traditional,
poet has to have an intimidate knowledge of the whole of history.
Internalize it, becomes part of him. Conscious part.
- What matters is European traditions. Interested in canonical literature,
white and male. Main current does not flow invariably through the trend.
He seems to be the only one who can tell us what to be reading. Does not
tell us the outliers. He is not reflexive of his own education. Not everyone
has enough privilege as he does. Not a matter of gender or race, it‟s
about hard work.
- This idea of tradition is a theory. Stating so confidently, hard to
disbelief. Are these points relevant and important?
- “What happens when a new work of art is created is something that
happens simultaneously to all the works of art which preceded it.” (956)
Bidirectional relationship. Limited definition. What he means is that once
we perceive the new art, we can‟t read similar arts the same way again.
Once we see the movie, the book isn‟t the same. Wide Sargasso Sea and
The “Individual Talent”
- What do you have to do to become a poet? “The progress of an artist
is a continual self-sacrifice, a continual extinction of personality.” (958)
o Read a lot. Helps if you have been to Harvard
o Enhancement of the personality. Individual emotions and
experiences. BUT ELIOT says that you have to crush. Goes into
poetry is synthesis of what you have been reading. Poet‟s job is
to distill them. Poetry expresses itself. Catalyst. Not completely
- “The poet‟s mind… present together.” (959)
o Part of the authority. Not romanticism. Interested in presenting
authoritative, as objective. Responding to anti-enlightenment of
the subject. Calling criticism a science, legitimizes. Also during
the history, respect for science is growing, latching onto social
o Sublime. Responding to the transcendent greatness. Artistic
process, not the inspiration.
o Product of work. Redefining artistic creativity. - Feelings are fleeting impressions. Emotions are the way we conceptualizes
- gifted but sick
- Structuralism/ Poststructuralism
Not individual works, but universal. How we organize. Foundation of
Poststructuralism: takes universal structure, and make it a little
more unstable. More fluid. Belief in that universal applicability and
how it can hold together breaks down
“The Death of the Author” 1967
- Provocative title
- Destabilizing our belief. Fundamental of how we think about the text.
Close Reading starts in the beginning. We don‟t know the source of
- “Writing is the destruction of every voice… with the very identity of the
body writing.” (1322)
o Prestige. Not part of nature to associate author with the works.
Killing the author, shifts the balance of power.
o Attachment of this author is still here. First and final say of that
word. Tyrannical. Feeling for this author who is criticized,
purpose of this essay is to “kill the author”. Closing
interpretations and exclusion of other texts. Not necessarily
because it might imply criticism, assumed to be definitive
interpretation. Interpret text, a number of ways are possible.
o Eliot is interested in the work, how poet shapes the writing. Eliot
believes author actively shape the text, believes in authority.
- “The Author is thought to nourish the book… every text is eternally written
here and now.” (1324)
Shifting terms: author/scriptor
o Scriptor is not an entity the same way that the author is.
Scriptor is more open being.
o Author existed before. Different interpretations.
o Text origin is language. That‟s why cannot be related to
author. Texts are made out of other texts. Scripter‟s text is disabled. The authority of author is translated to the critique.
o A lot of binaries. Author created this work that always
attached to him.
o Work/Book = Author
o Text = Scriptor
o “We know now that a text is not a line… original, blend and
o Text- reading. Author obliterated, reading is endless.
o Scriptor creates text: his intent to the meaning is irrelevant.
What they can potentially mean is different. His way of
crystallizing it. Not creating new ideas, but refract them. Read
it by language. Nature of language is more important.
Language is writing.
o Author- Wordsworth
o Scriptor- Autonomous writing (Barthes think that it doesn‟t
matter who, but everyone who writes is a scriptor.) Not the
person is obliterated, but act of using language.
o Literature is defallacized that is everything that is text.
Language becomes for its own sake- medium of the text.
Partake your personal self is obliterated for its own sake-
o “Text is made of multiple writings… but in its destination”
o departs from Eliot. Authority is in the readers rather than the
poet/ poet critic. Relationship between text and author.
Meaning doesn‟t need to be transcendent or religious, nor
humanist. It‟s in relationally where the meaning comes from.
Start seeing transition where we‟re reading.
Criticism: utopian. Text cannot manipulate the reader.
He fall short of critiquing the power and relationship.
Terry Eagleton (1943-)
- English as well - Working class context
- Revolutionary background
- Irish Republicans. Cambridge scholarship.
“The Rise of English” (1983)
“Literature is an ideology.” (2140)
o Comprehensive view of the world. Ideologies determine
behaviors. Promoted by groups in power. Privileged access to
means of control. Ideologies pretend not to be theories.
Historicist argument. Particular time and social factors. Birth of
secularism. Different of Barthes. Eagleton: natural experience.
“Like all successful ideologies… as T.S. Eliot knew, is unlikely to
survive very long.” (2140)
o Religion doesn‟t tell people what to think, but guides them
through subconscious desires. Literature is something
organic, fact of nature for Eliot. Tradition separate from social
condition, so tradition will work in an ideological way, canon
and continues timelessly. But did critique literature as
religion. Eagleton is saying that this move by Arnold was to
control the working class. It was about social control and not
transcendence and meaning. Eagleton is getting little closer
to what Arnold is saying.
o Given to working class so that they don‟t create barricades.
Dominant identifications not with own class but with
Liberal, humanizing, but not.
Spread of literacy
o “Since literature, as we know… in their high-minded
contemplation of eternal truths and beauties.” (2142)
human universal values don‟t exist. In literature is
because of ideology. Not really literature. Study of
literature. Institution of academy that he has a
problem. It‟s because of the critics. Authoritative
criticism as a form of social control. Explicit concern. Critiques empty political context, after Arnold, Milton
becomes universal human value. Timeless truths.
Speaking about new critics. For Eagleton, criticism is
distracting people from resisting. Promotes nationalism.
Distract from Classicism. First imperialist war (ww1),
demarcate his role.
Subject is for women. Relative positions of disciplines?
Folded back into ideological discourse. Ideology can
absorb opposition, but opposition is in need of its
When you‟re caught up in an ideology, you don‟t know it. Dogma.
Eliot is questioning that novelty is not good. Poetry is about sublime.
Barthes is questioning literature needs to understand author, reader just
receives what the author gives.
Eagleton is questioning human truths, not necessarily uplifting for the
human truths. Literature is apolitical.
Critical of each other. Debate. Different as writers, critical voices are part of
how they are trying to persuade you.
Eliot is authoritative. Clearly structured. Closure.
Barthes is provocative. Playful. Complex. Perform an opening.
Eagleton is informal, sarcastic. Serious intent but funny tones.
Literature but world views. Vision of society. Explicit and implicit of what a
society should look like. How can they interact with culture. What is the best
possible way to view literatures? Work to interpret. Throes of power. As
much as new critics want to isolate the text, literature is embedded form of
culture. Range outside of literature. Connect them to sociopolitical life. How
power is exercised. How mobilizing power for their own purposes. Always
trying to convince you that their theory is right.
How are the papers marked? - Know what you‟re talking about
- STUFF FAST
- right in the middle of the action, with textual example that illustrates your
point and jumping stone. No real fill, thesis statement.
- TOPIC and EVIDENCE and SUPPORT
- Explaining meaning. Basic. Explicating what the argument is. Explain what
they mean without repeating the jargon. Example.
- Take one illustrative passage and explain how that crucial way explain the
- Using structural trope that is a way that decodes the text
- Use specific terms you are sure
- Get the theory: more basic and general
- Use your language to explicate the stuff
Mid 20 Century Anglo. New Criticism. Marx and Engels 5/14/2013 3:03:00 PM
Friedrich Engels (1820-1895)
Karl Marx (1818-1883)
Met and made friends.
Marx exiled from France and Germany
Engels helped him settle
Marx articulates socialism, defining voice, important elements
A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy 1859
Economics are the base, foundation. Superstructure is culture, law,
everything else. Prioritization. All human relations/ social
structures. Division and separation is not entirely clear. Don‟t really
talk about how it is separate or how they influence each other.
Takes it for a given. He can get to the actual situation through
“The sum total of these relations of production constitutes the
economic structure of the society… social consciousness.” (662)
Defines history as a series of modes of production.
Proletariat/Bourgeoisie (antagonistic). Proletariat (working class).
Bourgeoisie (owners). Purist form of antagonism. Will through its
own workings undo itself. “The productive forces developing in the
womb of bourgeois society create the material conditions for the
solution of that antagonism.”
The German Ideology 1846
Marx and Engel‟s relationship with ideology
Marx only interested in theories that apply to the real world.
Concrete circumstances. Separating from idealist. Idealism pits
itself against pure reality. Marx is against that romantic idea of
subjectivity. Interested in larger structures and believes in
o Thesis +Antithesis = synthesis
o Abstract + Negative = concrete o Subjects create each other. About relationships but also how
it happens in the individual. Internal formation. Master Slave
dialectic. Ascends from earth to heaven.
o Antagonism between two forces are force of change.
o History only develops out of class struggles
o Thesis and antithesis are created by the classes.
o Objectivity and concrete knowledge. How history happens and
how human society develops.
“Morality, religion, metaphysics… their thinking and products of
their thinking.” (656)
o Eagleton: Marxist theorists are interested by literature
enriching life are powerfully affecting us. Masking itself as
entertaining in order to promote ideological messages.
Aesthetics of literature (subjectivity) is absolutely tertiary.
Symptom of dominant ideology.
“Where speculation ends… and real knowledge ahs to take its
o The role of the philosophy is key, lifting the veil. The fact is…
o Confident in perception of the material real.
Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844
Ideas are being explored. His concept of dialectical materialism.
Political economy. As a school of thought before him has been
Text of capitalism has been misread. Poor readers. 2
characteristics, superstructure as though it was base.
Ideology Critique. Exposing assumptions of dominant ideology.
False Consciousness. Presents this control as necessary facts of
nature. Results in ideological control. Don‟t know that they are
being controlled. Ignored it because they think they can move up.
Can be either.
“Political economy proceeds from the fact of private property… it
takes for granted what it is supposed to evolve.” (652) Private property that we take for granted is not natural. The greatest
amount of profit for least amount of input is not a fact of nature.
Economics has failed to do before him is explain how any of this
“Do not let us go back… We proceed from an actual economic fact.”
(652-653) Theology: origin sin. Always been there in all of us.
Destabilizing origin myths of capitalism. Theology: origin of evil.
Always exist. Political economy does the same thing, both of them
are allusions. Should pay attention to what myths Marx holds onto.
Not interested in writing individual circumstances.
“The alienation of the worker in his product… life which he has
conferred on the object confronts him as something hostile and
alien.” (653) Part of the worker is gone, doing it all over, machines,
person is commodity. A part of the worker is actually sold in the
market. Capitalism produces estrangement and alienation in self.
Worker is alienated, estranged. Product of her labor, act of
production itself, from herself as a producer (no longer has innate
value). Design of and demand of products, conditions of production
such as time and wages, through these psychological relationships
as self as a commodity. Part of human psyche. Under capitalism it
gets fragmented. Although delving into psychology, interested in
relations. Worker and product. Capitalism mystified this by making
it seem like the product and buyer. Another mode of estrangement.
Labor becomes the commodity. Producer to product is no longer the
primary relationship. ONLY under capitalism. Purification of
exploitation. Humanist. Society should work to preserve rather than
The Communist Manifesto 1848
Context of political unrest
“A spectre is haunting Europe--- the spectre of Communism.” (657)
Won‟t go away. Precise location.
Bourgeois be revolutionary?
“The bourgeoisie, wherever it has got the upper hand… shameless,
direct, brutal exploitation.” (659) short, strong, negative. Making it
right. All those values, religion and chivalry, those values are illusions and shackles. Capitalism is destroy it so that it can no
longer be ignored. Purification of exploitation. Lead more effectively
to revolution. Capitalism is the necessary condition at to which
revolution. Bourgeois is deconstructing those illusions. Colonialism:
ambivalent. Apply to non-European notions. Denial of history or
development of any kind of a part of racial other history. Write
about the compulsion of adopt bourgeois with the spread of
colonialism. Concerned about exploitation. Colonialism is necessary
for transnational awareness.
Charlie Chaplin clip. Identification. Don‟t get when we read Marx.
By Marx alone
Question is why art from earlier periods still affect us? Even though
social conditions that are produced are gone. Philosophical problem.
Because everything is secondary, if culture is a second response to
economics, cultural text should not remain constant when
economics and mode of production changes. Base. Art from the
base, appreciation, arises from undeveloped state of society from
which it came. Other than inspite of it. We don‟t like them inspite of
the differences, but because charming and infantile of it. Historic
childhood of humanity. Not conscious enough.
Base slash superstructure. Doesn‟t address fully. Where is this place
of subjectivity? Dogmatic. Challenge.
Capital, Volume I
“It is clear as noon-day, that man, by his industry… far more
wonderful than “table-turning” ever was.” (664) Charlatan. Presents
itself as real. Scam. Illusory or false or magical value. Attached to
commodities. Cost two values when they are the same worth.
Giving qualities to commodities that properly should be producers.
Create social relationships amongst objects = fetishism. What Value
that commodity takes on when it goes into the market. Motivations and desires. Performs actions against control. Economic One:
market reacted, market is strong. Market as a personified force.
Two: the values attributed by the market, intrinsically part of those
commodities, older ipad drops and new ipad rises. Social sign of
commodity (wearing brands, etc.) Mystifications. Capitalism
naturalizes the power.
Violent imagery. “But in its blind unrestrainable passion… absolutely
exhausted, renders essential.” (671-672) werewolf, usurping,
capitalism acts on the body.
“Experience shows to the intelligent observer… by the very root.”
People who are controlled, women weren‟t not exactly aware of that
fact. Effects of human effects on the social psyche of the person.
Stunting influences of the human subject. Freud and Psychoanalysis 5/14/2013 3:03:00 PM
Sigmund Freud (1856-1939)
Graduated with MD, and practice in Hospital. But set up in his own practice,
for nervous disorders. Was using the term psychoanalysis to describe his
methods, talking cure. A lot of followers. Feud with collaborator and follower
- The Unconscious
No conscious over them. Things being actively repressed.
Unwanted desires, traumatic memories, emotional pain
Only emerges: discredited forms of knowledge. Jokes, puns,
dreams… not as important as real and logical. So these are things
that Freud is interested in.
Not limiting. Gains force because it gains structure without our
conscious. Through different types of disorder behavior. Freud faced
a lot of question about what this unconscious is. So he came up
with the structural model.
Freud‟s iceberg. Force of chaos.
ID: Whatever drive, we have to follow.
Ego: only exists inside this conflict as a mediator. (partly
subconscious) Controls. Not all conscious. Intellect, memory,
planning, temporal awareness, self-control. Anxiety, inferiority,
guilt. Under pressure from ID and Super-Ego. Not a sense of self,
Freud doesn‟t believe in whole. Not inflated sense of self. Ego is
founded on and only exist in a state of conflict. Trying to mediate
between these forces.
Super Ego: How we interpret forces that are working on us
externally. Identification with parental authority. Especially
repressive authority from the father. Works against ID. Punishes
the ego by giving into the ID. Act in accordance with the rules
around us. Not conscious, no internal morality. Interacting social
constructs because they are implicit. Starts to become destructive.
The Interpretation of Dreams (1900)
o The desire for the mother o Like Marx, literature is symptomatic for Freud.
o We have misread this text. Oedipus works for both genders.
Fascination with the parental figure of the opposite sex as a
Castration complex/ penis envy
o Phallus: Wholeness/ agency. Fears castration, so fears less of
o Girl wants the penis for the power she will never have access.
Construction of gender roles as well.
o (example) Sylvia Plath, “Daddy”
o Wants to know how repression works out.
o “Another of the great creations of tragic poetry…. The secular
advance of repression in the emotional life of mankind.” (817)
o Oedipus does not know, but Hamlet did and actively tried to
repress these urges.
o Marriage of the mother comes out and is open in Oedipus.
o Literature can serve as a historical document of the collective
psyche of its time. Foregrounding the role of the imagination.
Assess the unconscious. He thinks that literature can show
the past. Big claim.
o According to Freud, its been misread. The central question:
Why doesn‟t he just kill Claudius? Sees his desire to kill father
and sleep with his mother. Ghost is just another excuse.
Freud isn‟t interested in Hamlet, he‟s interested in it as a
o “The distaste for sexuality expressed… which confronts us in
o “Just as Hamlet… are open to more than a single
o Limitless of other interpretations. Endless are possible
because this material is so dense. Over determination of
these images. One thing can mean a number of contradictory
things. o Why useful for film and literature. Translation of psychological
phenomenon into images. Alfred Hitchcook and David Lynch.
Art: Surrealists were trying to depict Freudian concepts. “The
dream-content is expressed as it were in a pictographic script…”
o Condensation: creates pictographic language. Bottomless.
Text can generate infinite interpretation.
o Displacement: transference of what Freud calls cyclic
intensities. Sometimes do not experience the strongest thing
the strongest. Displacement has made the important thing
o “The consequence of the displacement is that the… which
exists in the unconscious.” (820) censorship exercised upon
the psyche by the psyche. Forces of work desire to repress
and expose that are united in dreams. Distorting and
displacing itself in order to escape the censorship. Tension.
The part that wants everything to push down and get up.
Psyche interpreted as something whole. Romantics and
conceptions of subjectivity. Idea that the psyche of the
human mind is a whole thing. Conflict that is creating the
work of the imagination. Whole psyche is organized. Ego
doesn‟t exist with the conflict. No possibility of the solution.
Constant battle. The point is not to get to the idea that you
have a problem with your mother, but it‟s the form of the
encoding. Why does your psyche decide to choose a particular
image? Translate the dream of thoughts to the dream of
content. DreamWORK. Not decoding or deciphering, but
disentangling it. How does the individual mind encode repress
in this particular way? Always individual and contingent.
“The “Uncanny”” (1919)
Intimately related. Uncanny because it‟s so intimately to us.
“Thus Heimlich… until it finally coincides with its opposite,
unheimlich.” (828) Linguistically significant. Indicator of repression of something that is
actually familiar. Structure reveals, inherent tension. Takes a word
that we think we know and de-familiarizing it. Making us live with
these contradictions. Language can become symptomatic. Language
has to manifest these kinds of tension.
Relocating Jentsch- “whether this doll is alive or not”. What is
uncanny is fear of being blinded and castration anxiety. Associating
repressed and certainty of feelings of guilt with the sand-man who
blinds children. That‟s why we feel this uncanny effect.
“Elements in the story… hands castration is expected.” (832) How
does castration anxiety gets warped out. Look at the elements,
instead of just offering interpretation as if it was certain.
“This uncanny is in reality nothing new… only through the process
of repression.” (833)
Uncanny is more in literature than in real life.
Previous stages of society. Model, social development might appear
to us to be quite problematic. Superstitiousness that we have
surmounted. Our own psyche, development of our own society.
Primitive, savage remain in our unconscious, even though we have
evolved. We connect to that in the uncanny. Psychic stages that we
have supposedly surmounted. When an author adopts realist and
moves away from it that we get an experience of the uncanny, and
expectations are broken.
“We might say that these preliminary results… which has been
repressed.” (837) Quite open about it. Not a complete analysis.
Adapted, large part based on clinical patients. Challenge what he
had already written. Take into account provincial writing.
Not able to explain. Working to a full understanding. Understanding
of dream is not fully explainable. Super-ego. External reality.
Efforts of the ego.
“The fetish is a substitute for the woman‟s… does not want to give
“Yes, in his mind the woman has got a penis, in spite of
everything… memorial to itself in the creation of this substitute.” Disavowal
“In the situation we are considering… unconscious laws of thought.”
o Register on some level. Know and refuse at the same time.
Compromise between the weight of the unwelcome
perception, counter wish that she wants to have a penis.
o Way of disavowal maintains. How the dream works. Takes the
keep this disavowal, creation of the fetish. He‟s interested in
the dream work in significance. How you can transfer the
dreamwork into the dream. Allow the disavowal to maintain.
Active response. Allows to take back the power. Once realizes
mother doesn‟t have penis, passive, creation of fetish he
places himself in this active position.
Consciousness determined by economics. Thinking not because free rational
agent, but because of my social class.
Split definition into refinement. Transparency. Structuralism: Saussure and Levi-Strauss 5/14/2013 3:03:00 PM
Destabilizing natural ideas
- Cultural Anthropology
Ferdinand de Saussure
- Comparative linguistics. Contact with Sanskrit. Cementing of colonial
power. Text is compilation of lecture notes put together by his students. He
taught this course three times. No cohesive voice. Been developing since
1880. Realization of his work. Only translated 1959. Gained worldwide.
Linguistic turn. Influential work.
Three principal dvisions
- Saussure‟s classification of language
Le langage (heterogynous, communication)
La langue (concerned with this, no language as we know it. Not
English or Spanish, but language with a capital L. System or
structure. System of classification.
La parole (utterances, talking)
- Course in General Linguistics
Distancing langue from parole. Four characteristics. Page 850
“Since the science does not yet exist… part of the general science of
“There is first of all the superficial notion… thereby prohibiting any
research into its true nature.” (851)
Genesis. Things come into being. Language is not giving names to
things. Naming function is seen as a fact. Inhibiting proper
linguistics. Theory, study focuses too much on the individual. Freud
gives. Not interested in the individual but the social. Language is
the social phenomenon.
“Some people regard language…. Not a thing and a name, but a
concept and a sound-image.” (852)
o Come into being through names. Psychological is langue,
vocal is parole. Simple operation. No natural link between the
concept and the sound image. Saying that instead, two terms
are linked in a single linguistic sign. o Thing concept signified
o Name sound-image signifier
The name sound concrete or natural. Association. Suggests pre-
existing realities and a name that you give to it. More fluid and
Signifier + signified = sign
Thinking of tree (concept) (signified) + conceptualization of tree in
language (signifier) = sign. Two notions of what a tree is. Sign is
composed of both of these things.
“Whether we try to find the meaning of the latin word abror… and
we disregard whatever others might be imagined.” (853)
o How language shapes reality. Language determines our
experience of the world. Only representing our language of a
concept of a water bottle. Our experience with the water
bottle is determined by our experience. Not subjective. Not
individual, but product of social consensus.
“The bond between the signifier and the signified is arbitrary.”
o Not up to us. Cannot change it to will. But signifier is
unmotivated, no natural connection. It‟s created by social
consensus. Different between among languages.
o Signifier is linear. Auditory, unfolds in time. Time span that is
one dimensional. Auditory can only be linear. Have to appear
successively in a chain. Produce a chain of signs. Writing is
designed to mimic this effect. Mimic speech. Secondary to
speech. Phono-centrism. Chain of signifiers.
“Language is only a system of pure values.” (856)
o Sign unites part of thoughts and part of sounds. No natural
link to these two domains. We don‟t use signs to express
ideas that pre-exist them. Each define the other. Signified
does not predetermine the signifier.
“On the one hand the concept… from the simultaneous presence of
the others.” (858) Product of relation and diffrentiation.
o Sentence structure.
“The arbitrary nature of the sign… is incapable fo fixing a single
value.” (857) o something that is social, produces the idea of social. Our idea
of social, produced by language. By the time we exist,
language is already a set up structure that determines our
experience. Reinforced by social interactions. A form of
consensus that individuals cannot control, like the economic
system Marx brings up.
“Linguistics then works in the borderland where the elements of
sound and thought combine; their combination produces a form,
not a substance.”
The idea of a value, as defined, shows that… one must start and
through analysis obtain its elements.” (857)
o Huge varities. Everything is classifiable according to this
structure. Two ways which this can be radically rational.
Exchange and comparison. The way that we can exchange a
dollar for coffee, a dollar to five dollars, exchange an idea for
a word. Co