Entertainment / Literature / Deconstruction: An interpretive movement in literary theory that reached its apex in the 1970s. Deconstruction rejects absolute interpretations, stressing ambiguities and contradictions in literature. Deconstruction grew out of the linguistic principles of De Saussure who noted that many Indo-European languages create meaning by binary opposites. Verbal oppositions such as good/evil, light/dark, male/female, rise/fall, up/down, and high/low show a human tendency common transculturally to create vocabulary as pairs of opposites, with one of the two words arbitrarily given positive connotations and the other word arbitrarily given negative connotations. Deconstructionists carry this principle one step further by asserting that this tendency is endemic to all words, and hence all literature. For instance, they might try to complicate literary interpretations by revealing that 'heroes' and 'villains' often have overlapping traits, or else they have traits that only exist because of the presence of the other. Hence these concepts are unreliable in themselves as a basis for talking about literature in any meaningful way. Oftentimes, detractors of deconstruction argue that deconstructionists deny the value of literature, or assert that all literature is ultimately meaningless. It would be more accurate to assert that deconstructionists deny the absolute value of literature, and assert that all literature is ultimately incapable of offering a constructed meaning external to the 'prison-house of language,' which always embodies oppositional ideas within itself. Deconstruction is symptomatic in many ways of postmodernism. In the more radical fringes of postmodernism, postmodern artists, dramatists, poets, and writers seek to emphasize the conventions of story-telling (rather than hide these conventions behind verisimilitude) and break away from conventions like realism, cause-and-effect, and traditional plot in narratives. Such a text might be called 'deconstructed' in a loose sense. See also diff???©rance.


Entertainment / Literature / Valorization: In literary criticism, the privileging of one key aspect of a literary text or one particular process as the focus of literary analysis. New Critics, for instance, valorize the text itself, the words MORE

Yale School

Entertainment / Literature / Yale School: A group of critics at Yale University who are known primarily for deconstructionist interpretations--the group includes Paul de Man, J. Hillis Miller, Geoffrey Hartman, and Harold Bloom. MORE


Entertainment / Literature / Logocentrism: (lit. 'word-centered') Jacques Derrida's term for a tendency to privilege thinking based on a desire for absolute truth, which he associated with Western thought since Plato. He saw this tendency as i MORE