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Alienation

Identify

Alienation is Karl Marx’s theory which refers to the separation of things that naturally belong
together, or to antagonism between things that are properly in harmony.

Define

Marx believed alienation to be a systematic result of capitalism. An example is the alienation of labour
and product. In the past farmers used to farm the land and the fruits of their labour produced the
products such as grains or vegetables and they owned these products. Capitalism saw many people
working in factories making such things as shoes. In that scenario an alienation of labour and product
occurs since the workers that put in the labour to make the shoes do not own the fruits of their labour
since the factory does.

False Consciousness

Identify

False consciousness is the Marxist thesis that material and institutional processes in capitalist society
are misleading to the working class. Members of a subordinate class (workers, peasants, serfs) suffer
from false consciousness in that their mental representations of the social relations around them
systematically conceal or obscure the realities of subordination, exploitation, and domination they
suffer.

Define

Marx asserts that social mechanisms emerge in class society that systematically creates distortions,
errors, and blind spots in the consciousness of the underclass. If these consciousness-shaping
mechanisms did not exist, then the underclass, always a majority, would quickly overthrow the system
of their domination. So the institutions that shape the person’s thoughts, ideas, and frameworks
develop in such a way as to generate false consciousness and ideology. An example of this would be
the concept in American Culture of upward mobility. That anyone who tries hard enough can become
rich and successful and that a ‘rags to riches’ story is possible for all. This is a false consciousness.

“The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways. The point, however, is to change it”

Identify

The famous quote from Karl Marx, it is his 11th thesis on Feuerbach.

Define
Marx was challenging the practice of philosophers of interpreting the world and viewing interpretation
as being the fundamental purpose. Marx believed philosophy was always too late as it viewed and
explained history after it happened while Marx not only wanted to understand while it happened but he
wanted to shape it thus he says the point is to change the world, history.

Base and Superstructure

Identify

The base/superstructure model is a theoretical framework that charts the different parts of society
proposed by Marx and Engels. It is a model that regards the base as the economic foundation of
society. The cultural, political and social forms of life are, then, superstructures which are created out
of the base and also serve to develop and extenuate the economic base. Although Marx may have
posited that the base influences the superstructure in only one direction, Gramsci is convinced that there
is a "necessary reciprocity" (193) between the two.

Define

The base refers to the means of production of society; tools, equipment, buildings and technologies.
The superstructure is formed on top of the base, and comprises of society's ideology, legal system,
political system, and religions. Since the base creates and influences the superstructure according to
Marx ideology—how we think, what we take to be true—is determined by material things, our
economic conditions; that our consciousness simply reflects material conditions that are already there.
This model would say the French Revolution occurred not because of a social or political factors but
because of economic factors which were reflected in the social factors.

Signifiers and the Signified

Identify

In Saussure's theory of linguistics signifier and signified are terms used in literary criticism to describe
the components of a sign: the signifier is the word or sound, and the signified is the thing or idea it
represents.

Define

A 5 dollar bill is a signifier, because its meaning is culturally derived. There is no "thing" that a 5 dollar
bill is, save a piece of paper that has more cultural importance than other pieces of paper. The buying
power of that 5 dollar bill is its signified. The relationship of the 5 dollar bill (exchange value) to its
buying power (use value) is the relationship of the signifier to the signified. Or the sound of the word
“tree” is the signifier while the concept of the “tree” which it represents is the signified.
Mutability / Immutability

Identify

These terms are from Ferdinand de Saussure’s “Course in General Linguistics” where he discusses
the mutability and immutability of signs. Mutability points to the characteristics of a sign, therefore
language, to evolve and change while immutability points towards the limitations of this change.

Define

Saussure discusses the simultaneous mutability and immutability of the signs meaning that signs are
mutable since there is no intrinsic reason why the sounds (signifier) “dog” should represent the actual
(signified) dog. An example is how time changes the relationship between signifier (sound-image) and
signified (concept), therefore the sign. Example once “mouse” only meant a furry rodent but now it also
signifies a component of a computer. However signs are immutable because a consensus of the whole
society is needed to change the meaning of a sign, or what the signifier signifies, and this is tied to
language which is overly complex and so change is very unlikely to happen.

Langue/Parole

Identify

Ferdinand de Saussure originally made the distinction between language and parole. Langue is the
system of rules and conventions which is independent of, and pre-exists, individual users while parole
is the individual’s speech act itself. Thus langue is the knowledge and parole is the performance based
on that knowledge.

Define

In the chess analogy langue would be the knowledge of the rules of the game that will allow a player to
play the game while parole is the actual playing of the game, i.e. moving the chess pieces and making
moves.

Synchronic/ Diachronic

Identify

Saussure coined these terms. Diachronic analysis concerns itself with the evolvement and change over
time of that which is studied: thus diachronic linguistics is also known as historical linguistics, and is
concerned with the development of a language or languages over time. A synchronic study or analysis,
in contrast, limits its concern to a particular moment of time. Thus synchronic linguistics takes a
language as a working system at a particular point in time without concern for how it has developed to
its present state
Define

Ferdinand de Saussure’s linguistic methods, for example, studies language as a functioning system of
signs existing in the here and now thus they follow the synchronic.

Antifoundationalism (destruction of metanarrative)

Identify

Antifoundationalism, according to such as Jacques Derrida, is the rejection of the idea of a single
unified whole in which everything is ultimately interrelated. The existence of what we call knowledge
only exists because we have created it. If posed with the question, "if a tree falls in the forest, and no
one is around, would it make a sound?" the antifoundationalist may doubt whether the tree even fell in
the first place, after all, nobody saw the tree fall in the first place. In essence results don’t necessarily
define the means.

Define

It is the belief that everything exists only because we believe it is there. In one of Derrida's essay's,
"Deconstruction of Actuality", he states that absolute sense of actuality which are postulated by society
need not be heeded since the absolutes themselves have been tainted by the method by which they were
communicated.

Deconstruction

Identify

Associated with the writings of Jacques Derrida it is a method of reading and theory of language that
seeks to subvert, dismantle, and destroy any notion that a text or signifying system has any boundaries,
margins, coherence, unity, determinate meaning, truth, or identity.

Define

Deconstruction, unlike structuralism; which privileges structure over event, insists on the paradox of
structure and event. Deconstruction's central point is that total context is unmasterable. Though
meaning is context-bound, context is boundless. Deconstruction challenges the idea of a frozen
structure and advances the notion that there is no structure and a direct relationship between signifier
and signified is no longer tenable and instead we have infinite shifts in meaning relayed from one
signifier to another; play.

Play

Identify
A concept from Jacque Derrida’s essay titled “Structure, Sign and Play in the Discourse of the Human
Sciences”. Derrida asserts that words and their meanings are produced in the play of differences.

Define

Derrida argued against, in essence, the notion of a knowable center a structure that could organize the
differential play of language or thought but somehow remain immune to the same "play" it depicts

Transcendental Signifier

Identify

Jacque Derrida argued that dominant ideological discourse relies on the metaphysical illusion of a
transcendental signified - an ultimate referent at the heart of a signifying system which is portrayed as
'absolute and irreducible', stable, timeless and transparent - as if it were independent of and prior to that
system.

Define

A "transcendental signified" is a signified which transcends all signifiers, and is a meaning which
transcends all signs. All other signifieds within that signifying system are subordinate to this dominant
central signified which is the final meaning to which they point. Derrida noted that this privileged
signified is subject to historical change, so that Christianity focused on God, Romanticism focused on
consciousness and so on. Without such a foundational term to provide closure for meaning, every
signified functions as a signifier in an endless play of signification.

Autotelic

Identify

A term adopted by New Critics, of which Cleanth Brooks is one of them. New Critics call for a more
‘objective’ criticism focusing on the intrinsic qualities of a work rather than on its biographical or
historical context.

Define

New Criticism tends to emphasize the text as an autotelic artifact, something complete with in itself,
written for its own sake, unified in its form and not dependent on its relation to the author's life or
intent, history, or anything else. A term used to distinguish the self-referential nature of literary art from
didactic, philosophical, critical, or biographical works. These were works that were looked at without
attention to their origins or effects.

Centripetal force
Identify

A term introduced by M.M Bakhtin in “Discourse in the Novel” it is one of two forces in operation
whenever language is used. Centripetal force (and he gets this term/idea from physics) tends to push
things toward a central point.

Define

Bakhtin says that monologic language operates according to centripetal force: the speaker of monologic
language is trying to push all the elements of language, all of its various rhetorical modes into one
single form or utterance. Monologia is a system of norms, of one standard "official" language that
everyone would have to speak and centripetal force is the one acting upon it. This is the opposite of
Heteroglossia where instead of one central way of speaking there are many.

Heteroglossia

Identify

A term introduced by M.M Bakhtin in “Discourse in the Novel”. Heteroglossia is the idea of a
multiplicity of languages all in operation in a culture. Heteroglossia tends to move language toward
multiplicity, not as with the poststructuralist theorists in terms of multiplicity of meaning for individual
words or phrases, but by including a wide variety of different ways of speaking, different rhetorical
strategies and vocabularies.

Define

It is the collection of all the forms of social speech, or rhetorical modes, that people use in the course of
their daily lives. An example is all the different languages an individual uses in the course of a day.
People talk to friends in one way, to their professor in another way, to their parents in a third way, and
to a waiter in a restaurant in a fourth way, etc.

Ideal I

Identify

Ideal-I is the Freudian term meaning the ideal identity in light of which one measures one's actual ego.
Lacan also utilizes this concept in his mirror stage.

Define

In the mirror stage, the encounter with the imago of a whole, stable, autonomous self presents the infant
with an ideal image of him- or herself that does not correspond with the infant's present experiential
reality. In making a "connection" to this ideal image through identification, the infant enters a lifelong
quest to correspond wholly with this Ideal-I. According to Lacan, this quest can never be fulfilled,
because human existence is in essence a striving for a never-attainable perfection. Lacan does not put a
positive spin on this observation: while the mirror stage allows human individuals to come to know
themselves as "I", by establishing a permanent split within the subject's self-image, this process also
lays the foundation for forms of psychic distress such as anxiety, neurosis, and psychosis.

Mirror Stage

Identify

The "mirror stage" is an important early component in Jacque Lacan’s critical reinterpretation of the
work of Freud. It takes place during the Imaginary Order which structures our psyche.

Define

Lacan proposes that human infants pass through a stage in which an external image of the body (such
as reflected in a mirror) produces a psychic response that gives rise to the mental representation of an
"I". The infant identifies with the image, which serves as a gestalt of the infant's emerging perceptions
of selfhood, but because the image of a unified body does not correspond with the underdeveloped
infant's physical vulnerability and weakness, this imago is established as an Ideal-I toward which the
subject will perpetually strive throughout his or her life.

Symbolic Order

Identify

Symbolic Order is one of the three orders that structure the human psyche according to Jacque Lacan.

Define

It is the social world of linguistic communication, knowledge of ideological conventions, and the
acceptance of the law. Once a child enters into language and accepts the rules and dictates of society, it
is able to deal and communicate with others. The symbolic is made possible because of one’s
acceptance of the Name-of-the-Father; those laws and restrictions that control both your desire and the
rules of communication. The symbolic order works in tension with the imaginary order and the Real. It
is closely bound up with the superego and the phallus.

Defamiliarization
Identify

A concept coined by Viktor Shklovsky and found in his essay “Art as Technique”, he terms
defamiliarization as one of the crucial ways in which literary language distinguishes itself from
ordinary, communicative language, and is a feature of how art in general works, namely by presenting
the world in a strange and new way that allows us to see things differently.

Define

It is the distinctive effect achieved by literary works in disrupting our habitual perception of the world,
enabling us to ‘see’ things afresh, according to the theories of some English Romantic poets and of
Russian Formalism.

Gynocriticism

Identify

Elaine Showalter coined this term in her essay "Toward a Feminist Poetics." It is the historical study
of women writers as a distinct literary tradition. It refers to a criticism that constructs a female
framework for the analysis of women's literature, to develop new models based on the study of female
experience, rather than to adapt male models and theories.

Define

Gynocriticism aimed to recover women writers and define a “feminine” writing style. The theory
maintained that there was an inherently feminine characteristic. Showalter claims all literary sub-
cultures evolve through three major phases and the phases she defines for females are:

• Feminine-- IMITATIVE: imitation of male (dominant) forms


• Feminist -- PROTEST AND ADVOCACY: rebelling against standards, values and stereotype
• Female -- SELF-DISCOVERY: a literature of their own; no more imitation= GYNOCRITICISM

Gramsci

Identify

Antonio Gramsci, an Italian, was a leading Marxist thinker. Like Althusser, he rejected Vulgar
Marxism, insisting on the independence of ideology from economic determinism. Gramsci also rejected
crude materialism, offering a humanist version of Marxism which focused on human subjectivity.

Define
He influenced Marxist thoughts through his concept of hegemony which changed the Marxist view of
how the ruling class ruled. Raymond Williams even borrowed the concept to explain the way in which
a prevailing world-view saturates a society, becomes naturalized and established as ‘common sense’ so
that it becomes difficult to think outside of it.

Hegemony

Identify

Antonio Gramsci used the term hegemony to denote the predominance of one social class over others.
This represents not only political and economic control, but also the ability of the dominant class to
project its own way of seeing the world so that those who are subordinated by it accept it as 'common
sense' and 'natural'.

Define

Through hegemony it becomes difficult to think outside of or even to notice its shaping presence. It
permeates throughout society; it is an entire system of values, attitudes, beliefs and morality that has the
effect of supporting the status quo in power relations. It is the process by which a dominant culture
maintains its dominance through the use of institutions to formalize power and the employment of a
bureaucracy to make power seem abstract and so not attached to any one individual. An example is of
aristocratic hegemony in Britain in the seventeenth-century when the masses believed it was the natural
order of the world to have a King, aristocrats and then the merchants and then the poor.

Hermeneutics

Identify

The word hermeneutics has its origin in the name Hermes, the Greek god who served as messenger for
the gods. It is the study of interpretation and describes the interpretation of meanings. Originally
applied to the interpretation of the Bible, in the nineteenth century hermeneutics came to be
considered as a general theory of interpretation applied to texts of all description.

Define

Hermeneutics involves cultivating the ability to understand things from somebody else's point of view,
and to appreciate the cultural and social forces that may have influenced their outlook. Hermeneutics is
the process of applying this understanding to interpreting the meaning of written texts and symbolic
artifacts.

Hermeneutics of Suspicion
Identify

It is a term used by the French hermeneutic philosopher Paul Ricoeur who calls Karl Marx and
Sigmund Freud, among others, masters of the hermeneutics of suspicion.

Define

According to Ricoeur, the hermeneutics of suspicion is a method of interpretation which assumes that
the literal or surface-level meaning of a text is an effort to conceal the political interests which are
served by the text. The purpose of interpretation is to strip off the concealment, unmasking those
interests. It unmasks and unveils weak claims. It suspects the credibility of the superficial text and
explores what is underneath the surface to reveal a more authentic dimension of meaning.

ISA/RSA

Identify

This is Althusser’s division of the superstructure into the Repressive State Apparatus (RSA) and the
Ideological State Apparatus (ISA). The ISA is the structure of control maintained through the
manipulation of a given culture’s symbolic order. Through this structure, ideology is deployed,
reinforced, and morphed in order to maintain the integrity of the given power structure. RSA is the total
structure of control maintained through violent, militarized social intervention. Its functions are to
defend the social system from invasion.

Define

An example of the RSA in a society would be armed services, national guards, police, prison systems,
and intelligence and security agencies. Our laws and prison system works by punishing those that
commit acts that are not accepted by the society thus is it repressive. ISA on the other hand works
differently to conform people to the social norm. It is achieved through using ideology and the family,
schools, the church, and the media function as the educational institutions through which ideology
replicates itself.

Ideology

Identify

Raymond Williams argues for an understanding of ideology as not limited to an expression of ideas
but as a system of signification. Ideology has a pejorative connotation, it signifies doctrinaire beliefs
and rigid attitudes that are considered partisan and based on ideas ahead of facts. There are three senses
to the term ideology:
1) a system of beliefs characteristic of a particular class or group
2) a system of illusionary beliefs, false consciousness, which can be contrasted with true knowledge
3) the general process of the production of meaning and ideas

Define

Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels would qualify as believers of the first definition while Gramsci would
go with the second.

Procrustean Bed

Identify

The term is from Greek mythology where Procrustes was a bandit who invited every passerby to lie
down. If the guest proved too tall, he would amputate the excess length; if the victim was found too
short, he was then stretched out on the rack until he fit.

Define

In literary terms this points to a reading of texts where the text is forced to fit into an ideology or
concept. An example would be to see Marxist ideology represented in everything even a cartoon of
Winnie the Pooh.

Touchstone

Identify

Touchstone, as used in literary terms (touchstone method), was formulized by Matthew Arnold in his
“The Study of Poetry.” It means any physical or intellectual measure by which the validity of a concept
can be tested.

Define

Through his touchstone method he introduced scientific objectivity to critical evaluation by providing
comparison and analysis as the two primary tools of criticism. A touchstone can be a short passage
from the great masters’ works of literature that is used in determining other poetry and artist's works of
literature literary value or merit. This sense was first applied by Matthew Arnold, whose essay “The
Study of Poetry” gives Hamlet’s dying words to Horatio as an example of a touchstone.

Binary oppositions

A structuralist term used to describe the differential nature of any signifying system. Binary oppositions
are not facts or substances that have detectable positive qualities, but relational elements that are
detectable only by virtue of their difference from other elements intrinsic to the system itself. Thus
individual terms acquire meaning only by being cast in opposition to other terms within a system of
arbitrary and conventional signs.

Discourse

It is the formal and orderly speech or writing. In the writings of Michel Foucault, discourse is construed
as the whole mass of texts that belongs to a single "discursive formation." Foucault argues that
discursive hierarchies are established by a set of rules that is always subject to historical transformation.
He attempts to map out the way discursive territory is divided into the disciplines of science, literature,
history, philosophy, and so forth, revealing the hierarchy of discourses and the implicit power structure
at a given historical moment. For Foucault, discursive practice is necessarily interwoven with power
relations and social practices, history itself being but a "web" of discursive formations.

Metanarrative

In the terminology of postmodernism, the term 'narrative' or 'story' is used for what we might ordinarily
call a 'theory' about the way the world operates. Many such 'theories' are ordinarily taken to be the
objective 'truth'. We know, however, that there have been a variety of truths about the way things are.
For example, the 'narrative' of pre-Newtonian physics was overturned by Newton and the 'narrative' of
Newtonian physics was replaced by the 'narratives' of relativity and quantum mechanics. We may
consider that each of these steps represents a step closer to the 'truth', but that view would be rejected
by postmodernists who see such narratives as temporary until another one comes along. Sometimes
metanarrative can be used to mean the way in which we do a certain task, such as read.

Part 2 Essay
Role of Author According to:

Structuralism
• Structuralism is appealing to some critics because it adds a certain objectivity, a SCIENTIFIC
objectivity, to the realm of literary studies (which have often been criticized as purely
subjective/impressionistic). This scientific objectivity is achieved by subordinating "parole" to
"langue;" actual usage is abandoned in favor of studying the structure of a system in the abstract. Thus
structuralist readings ignore the specificity of actual texts and treat them as if they were like the patterns
produced by iron filings moved by magnetic force--the result of some impersonal force or power, not
the result of human effort. In this way of looking at narratives, the author is canceled out, since the
text is a function of a system, not of an individual.
• The Romantic humanist model holds that the author is the origin of the text, its creator, and hence is the
starting point or progenitor of the text.
• Barthes: The author is dead • Foucault: If the author was dead, we would
• For Barthes “To give a text an Author” and never experience any discourse, since
assign a single, corresponding literary criticism needs a warrant
interpretation to it “is to impose a limit on (addressee)
that text.” • Foucault believes author is more than a
• the author is a modern figure; writer: a creator (the transdiscursive
product of capitalism authors only)
• language speaks, not the author • Derrida: Author as cause, source,
• language knows a subject (proper master of text. The author is the
name or pronoun) not a person “transcendental signified”
• no final meaning; author is not • Without author there would be no
origin of text text
• de Man: The author governs the
text, but he is also ruled by the text.

• No longer the focus of creative influence, the author is merely a “scriptor” (a word Barthes uses
expressly to disrupt the traditional continuity of power between the terms “author” and “authority”).
The scriptor exists to produce but not to explain the work and “is born simultaneously with the text, is
in no way equip

Marxism
• The major distinction in Marxist thought that influences literary and cultural theory is that between
Traditional Marxists and Vulgar Marxists (new)
• The difference lies in the concept of ideology: Traditional Marxists tend to believe that it is possible to
get past ideology in an effort to reach some essential truth. Vulgar Marxists, especially after Louis
Althusser, tend to think of ideology in a way more akin to Jacques Lacan, as something that is so much
a part of our culture and mental make-up that it actively determines what we commonly refer to as
"reality" therefore even if there is an essential truth we cannot get to it
• LOUIS ALTHUSSER represents an important break in Marxist thought, particularly when it comes to
the notion of ideology. His Lacan-inspired version of Marxism significantly changed the way many
Marxists approached both capitalism and hegemony after the Second World War.
Aesthetics

It is the study of sensory or sensori-emotional values, sometimes called judgments of sentiment and
taste. Aesthetics is a subdiscipline of axiology, a branch of philosophy, and is closely associated with
the philosophy of art.