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ENGL301: Introduction to Literary Theory

Unit 3: Post-Structuralisms   As denoted by the plural nature of this unit’s title, poststructuralism is a less-unified theoretical movement than its precursors. Perhaps this lack of coherence is fitting, as many of the most famous poststructuralist thinkers challenge the notion that critical discourse can be coherent - just as they question whether language can truly communicate. Shocking and self-defeating as these theories may sound, they have greatly influenced much of 20th-century literary and philosophical thinking. In this unit, you will explore these poststructuralist theories, attempting both to situate them in terms of the theories you already have examined and to identify their potential limitations.

Unit 3 Time Advisory
Completing this unit should take you approximately 21.25 hours.

☐    Subunit 3.1: 7 hours ☐    Subunit 3.1.1: 2.5 hours

☐    Subunit 3.1.2: 1 hour

☐    Subunit 3.1.3: 1.5 hour

☐    Subunit 3.1.4: 1 hour

☐    Subunit 3.1.5: 1 hour

☐    Subunit 3.2: 8 hours ☐    Subunit 3.2.1: 2 hours

☐    Subunit 3.2.2: 3 hours

☐    Subunit 3.2.3: 3 hours

☐    Subunit 3.3: 6.25 hours

☐    Subunit 3.3.1: 2.5 hours

☐    Subunit 3.3.2: 1 hour

☐    Subunit 3.3.3: 2.25 hours

☐    Subunit 3.3.4: 0.5 hours

Unit3 Learning Outcomes
Upon successful completion of this unit, you will be able to:

  • define the terms semiotics, semiology, and intertextuality;
  • explain the basic concepts and key figures associated with deconstruction;
  • define the ideas of aporia, textual play, and différance;
  • compare and contrast the ideas of a number of major figures associated with the poststructuralist theoretical movement, including those of Michel Foucault, Roland Barthes, and Jacques Derrida; and
  • explain the fundamental concepts behind psychoanalytic literary criticism and compare and contrast the works of Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung, and Jacques Lacan.

3.1 Semiotics   3.1.1 What Are Semiotics and Semiology?   - Reading: The University of Toronto: Greig E. Henderson and Christopher Brown’s Glossary of Literary Theory: “Semiotics;” Athenaeum Library of Philosophy’s version of Roland Barthes’s Elements of Semiology; and The Saylor Foundation’s An Introduction to Literary Theory Coursepack: “Roland Barthes’s Semiotics” Link: The University of Toronto: Greig E. Henderson and Christopher Brown’s Glossary of Literary Theory: “Semiotics” (PDF); Athenaeum Library of Philosophy’s version of Roland Barthes’s Elements of Semiology (HTML); and The Saylor Foundation’s An Introduction to Literary Theory Coursepack: “Roland Barthes’s Semiotics” (PDF)

Instructions: Access the readings, beginning with the short
definition of *semiotics* from the University of Toronto’s *Glossary
of Literary Theory*, for an introduction to the term; followed by
the excerpt from Roland Barthes’s *Elements of Semiology* for an
example of the critical uses of this term in literary theory. You
can download the Saylor Foundation’s *An Introduction to Literary
Theory* Coursepack at the top of this course, or you can download
the coursepack section titled “Roland Barthes’s Semiotics” by
clicking on the link above. Read that section and answer the study
questions provided at the end of the section.  

 Following your reading, consider also answering the following
question: How does the study of semiology help to expand our
understanding of literature?   
    
 Completing these readings should take approximately 1.5 hours.  

 Terms of Use: “Semiotics” has been reposted by the kind permission
of Greig E. Henderson and Christopher Brown, and can be viewed in
its original form
[here](http://www.library.utoronto.ca/utel/glossary/Semiotics.html).
Please note that this material is under copyright and cannot be
reproduced in any capacity without explicit permission from the
copyright holder. For the other linked readings in this assignment,
please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the
webpages above.
  • Lecture: Yale University’s Open Yale Courses: Introduction to Theory of Literature: Dr. Paul H. Fry’s “Lecture 8: Semiotics and Structuralism”

    Link: Yale University’s Open Yale Courses: Introduction to Theory of Literature: Dr. Paul H. Fry’s “Lecture 8: Semiotics and Structuralism” (YouTube)

    Also available in:
    HTML, MP3, Adobe Flash, and Quicktime
     
    Instructions: Watch the 50-minute lecture. Note that a transcript of the lecture, an audio MP3 file, and Flash and QuickTime versions of the video are available through Yale’s Open Yale Courses website, also linked above.

    After watching the lecture, consider answering the following question: What does Dr. Fry suggest to be the importance of semiotics and structuralism to literary study?

    Watching this lecture should take approximately 1 hour.

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpages above.

3.1.2 Intertextuality: Semiotics and Literary Texts   - Reading: The University of Toronto: Greig E. Henderson and Christopher Brown’s Glossary of Literary Theory: “Intertextuality” and Aberystwyth University: Dr. Daniel Chandler’s Semiotics for Beginners: “Intertextuality”

Link: The University of Toronto: Greig E. Henderson and Christopher
Brown’s *Glossary of Literary
Theory*: [“Intertextuality”](https://resources.saylor.org/wwwresources/archived/site/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/intertextuality.pdf) (PDF)
and Aberystwyth University: Dr. Daniel Chandler’s *Semiotics for
Beginners*:
[“Intertextuality”](http://www.aber.ac.uk/media/Documents/S4B/sem09.html) (HTML)  
    
 Instructions: Read both definitions of *intertextuality* for a
basic introduction to this concept.  

 Following your reading, consider answering the following questions:
What is intertextuality? How are literary texts sometimes influenced
by other texts? How does an understanding of the operations of
intertextuality help us to interpret a piece of literature? Are all
pieces of literature, to some measure or another, “intertextual” in
nature?  
    
 Completing these readings should take approximately 1 hour.  

 Terms of Use: “Intertextuality” has been reposted by the kind
permission of Greig E. Henderson and Christopher Brown, and can be
viewed in its original form
[here](http://www.library.utoronto.ca/utel/glossary/Intertextuality.html).
Please note that this material is under copyright and cannot be
reproduced in any capacity without explicit permission from the
copyright holder. For Dr. Chandler’s “Intertextuality,” please
respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage
above.

3.1.3 Key Concepts   - Reading: Aberystwyth University: Dr. Daniel Chandler’s Semiotics for Beginners: “Introduction;” The University of Vermont: Dr. Thomas Streeter’s “Semiotic Terminology;” and Stanford University’s Center for the Study of Language and Information: The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Dr. Albert Atkin’s “Peirce’s Theory of Signs”

Link: Aberystwyth University: Dr. Daniel Chandler’s *Semiotics for
Beginners:*
[“Introduction”](http://www.aber.ac.uk/media/Documents/S4B/sem01.html) (HTML);
The University of Vermont: Dr. Thomas Streeter’s [“Semiotic
Terminology”](http://www.uvm.edu/~tstreete/semiotics_and_ads/terminology.html) (HTML);
and Stanford University’s Center for the Study of Language and
Information: *The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy*: Dr. Albert
Atkin’s [“Peirce’s Theory of
Signs”](http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/peirce-semiotics/) (HTML)  
    
Instructions: Access the readings, beginning with Dr. Chandler’s
“Introduction” to semiotics and Dr. Streeter’s overview of semiotic
terminology. Finally, read Dr. Atkin’s discussion of “Peirce’s
Theory of Signs.”  

 Following your reading, consider answering the following questions:
How does an understanding of semiotics help us to understand
literature? How do readers decide what is and is not a “sign” in a
piece of literature?  
    
 Completing these readings should take approximately 1.5 hours.


 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpages above.

3.1.4 Roots in Saussurean Linguistics   - Lecture: Yale University’s Open Yale Courses: Introduction to Theory of Literature: Dr. Paul H. Fry’s “Lecture 9: Linguistics and Literature”

Link: Yale University’s Open Yale Courses: *Introduction to Theory
of Literature*: Dr. Paul H. Fry’s [“Lecture 9: Linguistics and
Literature”](http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TxnqHukr-Oc) (YouTube)  

 Also available in:  
 [HTML, MP3, Adobe Flash, and
Quicktime](http://oyc.yale.edu/english/engl-300/lecture-9)  
    
Instructions: Watch the 50-minute lecture. Note that a transcript of
the lecture, an audio MP3 file, and Flash and QuickTime versions of
the video are available through Yale’s Open Yale Courses website,
also linked above.  

 Following your viewing of the lecture, consider answering the
following question: According to Dr. Fry, what is the relationship
between linguistics and literature?  

 Watching this lecture should take approximately 1 hour.


 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpages above.

3.1.5 The Influence of American Pragmatic Philosophy and Charles Sanders Peirce   - Reading: Marxists Internet Archive’s versions of Charles Sanders Peirce’s “How To Make Our Ideas Clear” and William James’s “What Pragmatism Means” Link: Marxists Internet Archive’s versions of Charles Sanders Peirce’s “How To Make Our Ideas Clear” (HTML) and William James’s “What Pragmatism Means” (HTML) 

 Instructions: Read both essays. Peirce’s essay is one of the
seminal texts on the philosophy of pragmatism, and James’s short
piece provides a reflection on pragmatism’s importance.  

 Following your reading, consider answering the following question:
How does James define *pragmatism*? Why is pragmatism important for
readers of literature to understand?  

 Reading these essays should take approximately 1 hour.  

 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpages above.

3.2 Deconstruction   3.2.1 Basic Concepts and Key Figures   - Reading: The University of Toronto: Greig E. Henderson and Christopher Brown’s Glossary of Literary Theory: “Deconstruction” and The Saylor Foundation’s An Introduction to Literary Theory Coursepack: “Derrida and Deconstruction” Link: The University of Toronto: Greig E. Henderson and Christopher Brown’s Glossary of Literary Theory“Deconstruction” (PDF) and The Saylor Foundation’s An Introduction to Literary Theory Coursepack: “Derrida and Deconstruction” (PDF)

 Instructions: Begin with a definition of *deconstruction* that
provides an overview of the term as it is used in literary theory.
The Saylor Foundation’s *An Introduction to Literary Theory*
Coursepack may be downloaded at the top of this course, or the
section on “Derrida and Deconstruction” may be downloaded from the
link above. Read that section and answer the study questions
provided at the end of the section.  

 Following your reading, consider answering the following questions:
What is *deconstruction*? How does deconstruction help us to
understand literary texts? Why might so many critics resist the
concept of deconstruction and consider it to be counterproductive to
the general task of literary interpretation?  

 Reading these sections should take approximately 1 hour.  

 Terms of Use: “Deconstruction” has been reposted by the kind
permission of Greig E. Henderson and Christopher Brown, and can be
viewed in original form here. Please note that this material is
under copyright and cannot be reproduced in any capacity without
explicit permission from the copyright holder. For the coursepack
reading, please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on
the coursepack webpage.
  • Lecture: Yale University’s Open Yale Courses: Introduction to Theory of Literature: Dr. Paul H. Fry’s “Lecture 10: Deconstruction I”

    Link: Yale University’s Open Yale Courses: Introduction to Theory of Literature: Dr. Paul H. Fry’s “Lecture 10: Deconstruction 1” (YouTube)
     
    Also available in:
    HTML, MP3, Adobe Flash, and Quicktime
     
    Instructions: Watch the 52-minute video lecture. Note that a transcript of the lecture, an audio MP3 file, and Flash and QuickTime versions of the video are available through Yale’s Open Yale Courses website, also linked above.

    After watching the lecture, consider answering the following question: How, in Dr. Fry’s view, does an understanding of deconstruction help readers to understand literature?
     
    Watching this lecture should take approximately 1 hour.

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpages above.

3.2.2 Jacques Derrida, Aporia, and the Text   - Reading: Athenaeum Library of Philosophy’s excerpt of Jacques Derrida’s Of Grammatology: “Linguistics and Grammatology” and Web-Books.com’s version of William Butler Yeats’s “Among School Children” Links: Athenaeum Library of Philosophy’s excerpt of Jacques Derrida’s Of Grammatology: “Linguistics and Grammatology” (HTML) and Web-Books.com’s version of William Butler Yeats’s “Among School Children” (HTML)

 Instructions: First, read the excerpt from Jacques Derrida’s *Of
Grammatology* for his discussion of deconstructionist concepts. In
*Of Grammatology*, Derrida, often considered the father of
deconstructionist thought, demonstrates that, when reduced to its
most fundamental elements, a text becomes a set of irreducible
signs, losing its narrative coherence. Following your reading of
Derrida, read William Butler Yeats’s poem “Among School Children”
before moving on to the resource below (Dr. Paul H. Fry’s second
lecture on deconstruction, in which Dr. Fry performs a
deconstructionist critique of Yeats’s poem).  

 Following your reading, consider answering the following question:
What do deconstructionist critiques reveal about pieces of
literature that other critical perspectives might not be able to
show?  


Completing these readings should take approximately 1.5 hours.  

 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpages above.
  • Lecture: Yale University’s Open Yale Courses: Introduction to Theory of Literature: Dr. Paul H. Fry’s “Lecture 11: Deconstruction II”

    Link: Yale University’s Open Yale Courses: Introduction to Theory of Literature: Dr. Paul H. Fry’s “Lecture 11: Deconstruction II” (YouTube)
     
    Also available in:
    HTML, MP3, Adobe Flash, and Quicktime
     
    Instructions: Watch the 53-minute lecture. Note that a transcript of the lecture, an audio MP3 file, and Flash and QuickTime versions of the video are available through Yale’s Open Yale Courses website, also linked above.

    Following your viewing of the lecture, consider answering the following questions: What does Derrida suggest about culture and its relationship to nature? How does this relationship between culture and nature connect to Derrida’s understanding of language and meaning? In what ways do Paul de Man’s ideas about rhetoric versus grammar help us to understand tensions in language and meaning? What are some of the criticisms of or concerns about deconstruction that have been expressed by scholars? What are some of the ways in which proponents of deconstruction might defend this theory against these criticisms or concerns, particularly when considering the nature of reality?

    Watching this lecture and considering the above study questions should take approximately 1.5 hours.

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpages above.

3.2.3 Authorship and Discourse   - Reading: Athenaeum Library of Philosophy’s versions of Roland Barthes’s “The Death of the Author” and Michel Foucault’s “What Is an Author?”

Link: Athenaeum Library of Philosophy’s versions of Roland Barthes’s
[“The Death of the
Author”](http://evans-experientialism.freewebspace.com/barthes06.htm) (HTML)
and Michel Foucault’s [“What Is an
Author?”](http://evans-experientialism.freewebspace.com/foucault3.htm) (HTML)  

 Instructions: Read the online excerpts of Barthes’s “The Death of
the Author” and Foucault’s “What Is an Author?”In his influential
essay “The Death of the Author,” critic Roland Barthes challenges
those readers who attempt to interpret a text by seeking to
determine authorial intention or biographical context, claiming
instead that the reader, not the author, writes the text. In “What
Is an Author,” critic Michel Foucault also grapples with the concept
of the author, tracing what he calls the “author-function” and its
development throughout history.  

 Following your reading, consider answering the following questions:
How does Foucault understand the concept of the author as compared
with Barthes’s vision of the author? Do Foucault and Barthes agree
or disagree on this point, and to what extent?  

Completing these readings should take approximately 2 hours.


 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpages above.
  • Lecture: Yale University’s Open Yale Courses: Introduction to Theory of Literature: Dr. Paul H. Fry’s “Lecture 2: Introduction (Continued)”

    Link: Yale University’s Open Yale Courses: Introduction to Theory of Literature: Dr. Paul H. Fry’s “Lecture 2: Introduction (Continued)” (YouTube)

    Also available in:
    HTML, MP3, Adobe Flash, and Quicktime
     
    Instructions: Watch the 47-minute lecture for a specific discussion of Barthes’s “The Death of the Author” as well as Foucault’s “What Is an Author?” Note that a transcript of the lecture, an audio MP3 file, and Flash and QuickTime versions of the video are available through Yale’s Open Yale Courses website, also linked above.

    Following your reading, consider answering the following questions: In light of Barthes’s and Foucault’s ideas, what are some understandings of the relationship between the author (i.e., the authority of the author) and various types of discourse? In what ways does Dr. Fry defend the author in his lecture?

    Watching this lecture should take approximately 1 hour.

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpages above.

3.3 Psychoanalytic Literary Criticism   3.3.1 Freudian Roots of Psychoanalytic Criticism: The Psyche and the Unconscious   - Reading: Washington State University: Dr. Michael Delahoyde’s “Psychoanalytic Criticism;” The University of Tennessee’s Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Dr. Stephen P. Thornton’s “Sigmund Freud;” Athenaeum Library of Philosophy’s version of Sigmund Freud’s A Philosophy of Life: New Introductory Lectures on Psycho-analysis; and The Saylor Foundation’s An Introduction to Literary Theory Coursepack: “Psyc

Link: Washington State University: Dr. Michael Delahoyde’s
[“Psychoanalytic
Criticism”](http://public.wsu.edu/%7Edelahoyd/psycho.crit.html) (HTML)*;
The University of Tennessee’s Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy:*
Dr. Stephen P. Thornton’s [“Sigmund
Freud”](http://www.iep.utm.edu/freud/) (HTML); Athenaeum Library of
Philosophy’s
[version](http://evans-experientialism.freewebspace.com/freud.htm) of
Sigmund Freud’s *A Philosophy of Life: New Introductory Lectures on
Psycho-analysis* (HTML); and The Saylor Foundation’s *An
Introduction to Literary Theory* Coursepack: [“Psychoanalytic
Theory”](https://resources.saylor.org/wwwresources/archived/site/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/ENGL301-Psychoanalytic-Theory.pdf) (PDF)  
    
Instructions: First, read the brief articles on psychoanalytic
criticism and Sigmund Freud; then read Freud’s lecture, which
discusses his concepts of the unconscious and repression.The Saylor
Foundation's *An Introduction to Literary Theory* Coursepack may be
downloaded at the top of this course, or the section on
“Psychoanalytic Theory” may be downloaded from the link above. Read
that section and answer the study questions provided.  

 Following your reading, consider also answering the following
question: How does psychoanalysis - and Freud’s theories of
psychoanalysis in particular - help us to understand literature?  

 Completing these readings should take approximately 1.5 hours.


 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpages above.
  • Lecture: Yale University’s Open Yale Courses: Introduction to Theory of Literature: Dr. Paul H. Fry’s “Lecture 12: Freud and Fiction”

    Link: Yale University’s Open Yale Courses: Introduction to Theory of Literature: Dr. Paul H. Fry’s “Lecture 12: Freud and Fiction” (YouTube)

    Also available in:
    HTML, MP3, Adobe Flash, and Quicktime
     
    Instructions: Watch the 50-minute lecture. Note that a transcript of the lecture, an audio MP3 file, and Flash and QuickTime versions of the video are available through Yale’s Open Yale Courses website, also linked above.

    After watching the lecture, consider answering the following questions: What are the underlying ideas about psychology and language that psychoanalytic theory supposes? How do these theories connect with scholar Peter Brooks’s way of understanding fiction? What roles do mortality and death play in Brooks’s theory, and how do Brooks’s ideas interact with Freud’s concept of the pleasure principle?

    Watching this lecture should take approximately 1 hour.

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpages above.

3.3.2 Carl Jung and the Collective Unconscious   - Reading: Athenaeum Library of Philosophy’s version of Carl Jung’s Modern Man in Search of a Soul: “The Basic Postulates of Analytical Psychology”

Link: Athenaeum Library of Philosophy’s version of Carl Jung’s
*Modern Man in Search of a Soul*: [“The Basic Postulates of
Analytical
Psychology”](http://evans-experientialism.freewebspace.com/jung.htm) (HTML)   

 Instructions: Read the excerpt from Jung’s *Modern Man in Search of
a Soul, which includes Jung’s* discussion of the unconscious.  

 Following your reading, consider answering the following question:
How do Jung’s theories of psychology differ from and expand upon
those of Freud?  
    
 Reading this excerpt should take approximately 1 hour.  

 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.

3.3.3 Combining Freud and Post-Structuralism: Lacan’s Imaginary, Symbolic, and Real Orders   - Reading: The University of Tennessee’s Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Dr. Matthew Sharpe’s “Jacques Lacan”

Link: The University of Tennessee’s *Internet Encyclopedia of
Philosophy*: Dr. Matthew Sharpe’s [“Jacques
Lacan”](http://www.iep.utm.edu/lacweb/) (HTML)  
    
 Instructions: Read the entry’s sections 1 and 2, titled
“Biographical and General Introduction” and “Lacan’s Philosophical
Anthropology,” respectively.  

 *Écrits*, Jacques Lacan’s seminal collection of essays and
articles, represents what many have called Lacan’s return to Freud,
or his revisiting of Freud’s original theories, as a means of
understanding the relationship between language and the formation of
the self.  

 Following your reading, consider answering the following questions:
What major tenets of Freudian theory does Lacan aim to unify? How
does Lacan reframe Freud’s notions of the *ego* and the *id* within
the context of the Helene Cixous? And how does Lacan reframe Freud’s
theory of *Oedipal complex*?  

Reading these sections should take approximately 1 hour.


 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.
  • Lecture: Yale University’s Open Yale Courses: Introduction to Theory of Literature: Dr. Paul H. Fry’s “Lecture 13: Jacques Lacan in Theory”

    Link: Yale University: Open Yale Courses: Introduction to Theory of Literature: Dr. Paul H. Fry’s “Lecture 13: Jacques Lacan in Theory” (YouTube)

    Also available in:
    HTML, MP3, Adobe Flash, and Quicktime
     
    Instructions: Watch the 51-minute lecture. Note that a transcript of the lecture, an audio MP3 file, and Flash and QuickTime versions of the video are available through Yale’s Open Yale Courses website, also linked above.

    Following your viewing of the lecture, consider answering the following questions: How does Fry define the terms metonymy and metaphor vis-à-vis the ideas of Peter Brooks and Roman Jakobson? How do these terms and theories connect with Lacan’s understanding of the unconscious (particularly as it relates to the dream world)? How does Lacan depart from the physicality of Freudian theory? What is desire, according to Lacan?

    Watching this lecture and considering the above study questions should take approximately 1.25 hours.

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpages above.

3.3.4 Concepts of Self, Other, and Language   - Reading: The Saylor Foundation’s An Introduction to Literary Theory Coursepack: “Lacan and the Mirror Stage”

Link: The Saylor Foundation’s *An Introduction to Literary Theory*
Coursepack: [“Lacan and the Mirror
Stage”](https://resources.saylor.org/wwwresources/archived/site/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/ENGL301-Lacan-and-the-Mirror-Stage.pdf) (PDF)  

Instructions: The coursepack may be downloaded at the top of this
course, or the section titled “Lacan and the Mirror Stage” may be
downloaded from the link above. Read that section and answer the
study questions provided at the end of the reading.  

 Following your reading, consider also answering the following
questions: Why is it important to understand the concept of *the
unconscious* when it comes to studying literature? What insight into
the workings of human consciousness does Lacan’s theory of the
mirror stage provide?  
    
 Reading this section should take approximately 30 minutes.


 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.