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Structuralism and Poststructuralism

Saussure And Structuralism, Jacques Lacan, Michel Foucault, And Gilles Deleuze, Jacques Derrida And Deconstruction

Structuralism was both an intellectual movement with wide ramifications in the twentieth century and an attempt to provide scientific status to the knowledge of language, culture, and society.

Structuralism originated in the work of Ferdinand de Saussure (1857–1913), a Swiss linguist whose lectures, when published by his students in 1916 (Course in General Linguistics), launched the new school of thought. Initially, the influence of Saussure's ideas was limited to linguistics and to the linguistics-based study of literature that the Russian formalists carried out in the early decades of the twentieth century. When one of the leaders of the formalist movement, Roman Jakobsen, emigrated to the United States during World War II, he met the French anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss and introduced him to Saussure's work. When Lévi-Strauss returned to France after the war, he launched structural anthropology and initiated French structuralism. His work in the late 1940s and 1950s inspired congruent and related work in psychoanalysis, sociology, history, and literary and cultural studies that culminated in the mid-1960s in the writings of literary scholars Roland Barthes, Tzvetan Todorov, and Julia Kristeva, historian Michel Foucault, and psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan. Structuralism dominated French thought through the early 1960s. In 1967, a new movement that questioned and extended the insights of structuralism arose. Poststructuralism, as it came to be called, is best known in the work of philosophers Jacques Derrida, Luce Irigaray, and Jean Francois Lyotard; sociologist Jean Baudrillard; and literary critic Hélène Cixous.

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