Structuralism

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  • Symbols or signs are the vehicles through which we conceptualize things
  • Focus on what society in general agrees on.
  • Structuralism

    1. 1. Literary Criticism Structuralism
    2. 2. What does this mean?
    3. 3. Or this?
    4. 4. History 1960s, Swiss linguist Ferdinand de Saussure influenced this theory through examination of language as a system of signs, called semiology
    5. 5. So what’s semiology? A sign consists of two parts  Signifier  Signified
    6. 6. What’s semiology? People know when they seeIt means they must stop.
    7. 7. Semiology I stop my car.
    8. 8. Semiology If we think of this linguistically…
    9. 9. Implications Symbols or signs are the vehicles through which we conceptualize things So what does this say about the relationship between language and thought? Can you have thought without language?
    10. 10. Implications The French word mouton may have the same meaning as the English word sheep; but it does not have the same value. There are various reasons for this, but in particular the fact that the English word for the meat of this animal, as prepared and served for a meal, is not sheep but mutton. The difference in value between sheep and mouton hinges on the fact that in English there is also another word mutton for the meat, whereas mouton in French covers both
    11. 11. Different kinds of signs Symbol/symbolic: the signifier does not resemble the signified. It is arbitrary - so that the relationship must be learnt: e.g. language in general (alphabetical letters, punctuation marks, words, phrases and sentences), numbers, morse code, traffic lights, national flags
    12. 12. Different kinds of signs Icon/iconic: the signifier is perceived as resembling or imitating the signified (recognizably looking, sounding, feeling, tasting or smelling like it) e.g. a portrait, a cartoon, a scale-model, onomatopoeia, metaphors
    13. 13. Different kinds of signs Index/indexical: the signifier is not arbitrary but is directly connected in some way (physically or causally) to the signified - this link can be observed or inferred
    14. 14. Structuralism Structuralists believe that if readers don’t understand the signs, they may misread a text.
    15. 15. Strengths This theory does focus on the author’s intent, and does focus on an objective interpretation without clouding the text with a subjective or emotional interpretation
    16. 16. Weaknesses Difficult to know who controls the meaning of a text. Reader looks only at linguistic structure and is not permitted to have an emotional attachment to the text. Not open to different interpretations
    17. 17. PracticeSignifier SignifiedA black cat24 Sussex Drive, OttawaStanley CupApril 1stColour green in trafficlightNod of head
    18. 18. Questions What are three key signifiers in this text that if you didn’t know what they signified, you wouldn’t understand the text. For each signifier, write down what it signifies If you didn’t know what a signifier signified, where would you go for information? What historical information or information about the author did you need to know to understand the meaning of the signifiers?

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