Important Literary Theories

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Offline Md. Nuruzzaman Moral

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« Reply #30 on: December 24, 2011, 04:07:30 PM »
                                           Prominent Structuralists

•   Ferdinand de Saussure
•   Roman Jakobson
•   Claude Lévi-Strauss
•   Louis Althusser
•   Roland Barthes
•   Michel Foucault
•   Jacques Lacan
•   Julia Kristeva
•   Hayden White
•   Jacques Derrida
•   T.S. Kuhn

« Last Edit: December 24, 2011, 04:32:06 PM by Md.Nuruzzaman Moral »

Offline Md. Nuruzzaman Moral

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« Reply #31 on: December 24, 2011, 04:08:14 PM »
                                                        Post-structuralism

Post-structuralism encompasses the intellectual developments of continental philosophers and critical theorists who wrote with tendencies of twentieth-century French philosophy. The prefix "post" refers to the fact that many contributors, such as Jacques Derrida, Michel Foucault, Roland Barthes, and Julia Kristeva, rejected structuralism and became quite critical of it. In direct contrast to structuralism's claims of an independent signifier, superior to the signified, post-structuralism views the signifier and signified as inseparable but not united. The Post-structuralist movement is closely related to postmodernism--but the two concepts are not synonymous.
While post-structuralism is difficult to define or summarize, it can be broadly understood as a body of distinct reactions to structuralism. There are two main reasons for this difficulty. First, it rejects definitions that claim to have discovered absolute "truths" or facts about the world.[1] Second, very few thinkers have willingly accepted the label 'post-structuralist'; rather, they have been labeled as such by others. Consequently, no one has felt compelled to construct a "manifesto" of post-structuralism. Indeed, it would be inconsistent with post-structuralist concepts to codify itself in such a way.
« Last Edit: December 24, 2011, 04:32:18 PM by Md.Nuruzzaman Moral »

Offline Md. Nuruzzaman Moral

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« Reply #32 on: December 24, 2011, 04:10:02 PM »
                             Structuralism vs. Post-structuralism

Structuralism was a fashionable movement in France in the 1950s and 1960s, that studied the underlying structures inherent in cultural products (such as texts), and utilizes analytical concepts from linguistics, psychology, anthropology and other fields to understand and interpret those structures. Although the structuralist movement fostered critical inquiry into these structures, it emphasized logical and scientific results. Many structuralists sought to integrate their work into pre-existing bodies of knowledge. This was observed in the work of Ferdinand de Saussure in linguistics, Claude Lévi-Strauss in anthropology, and many early 20th-century psychologists.
The general assumptions of post-structuralism derive from critique of structuralist premises. Specifically, post-structuralism holds that the study of underlying structures is itself culturally conditioned and therefore subject to myriad biases and misinterpretations. To understand an object (e.g. one of the many meanings of a text), it is necessary to study both the object itself, and the systems of knowledge which were coordinated to produce the object. In this way, post-structuralism positions itself as a study of how knowledge is produced.
« Last Edit: December 24, 2011, 04:32:29 PM by Md.Nuruzzaman Moral »

Offline Md. Nuruzzaman Moral

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« Reply #33 on: December 24, 2011, 04:10:39 PM »
                                                            Deconstruction

A major theory associated with Structuralism was binary opposition. This theory proposed that there are certain theoretical and conceptual opposites, often arranged in a hierarchy, which human logic has given to text. Such binary pairs could include Enlightenment/Romantic, male/female, speech/writing, rational/emotional, signifier/signified, symbolic/imaginary.
Post-structuralism rejects the notion of the essential quality of the dominant relation in the hierarchy, choosing rather to expose these relations and the dependency of the dominant term on its apparently subservient counterpart. The only way to properly understand these meanings is to deconstruct the assumptions and knowledge systems which produce the illusion of singular meaning. This act of deconstruction illuminates how male can become female, how speech can become writing, and how rational can become emotional.
« Last Edit: December 24, 2011, 04:33:16 PM by Md.Nuruzzaman Moral »

Offline Md. Nuruzzaman Moral

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« Reply #34 on: December 24, 2011, 04:12:45 PM »
                                                       Existentialism

The philosophers Søren Kierkegaard and Friedrich Nietzsche are considered fundamental to the existentialist movement, though neither used the term "existentialism". They predated existentialism by a century.
Existentialism is a philosophical movement which posits that individuals create the meaning and essence of their lives, as opposed to it being created for them by deities or authorities or defined for them by philosophical or theological doctrines.
It emerged as a movement in twentieth-century literature and philosophy, most notably Søren Kierkegaard and Friedrich Nietzsche, though it had forerunners in earlier centuries. Fyodor Dostoevsky and Franz Kafka also described existential themes in their literary works. It took explicit form as a philosophical current in Continental philosophy, first in the work of Martin Heidegger and Karl Jaspers in the 1930s in Germany, and then in the work of Jean-Paul Sartre, Albert Camus, and Simone de Beauvoir in the 1940s and 1950s in France. Their work focused on such themes as "dread, boredom, alienation, the absurd, freedom, commitment, and nothingness" as fundamental to human existence. Walter Kaufmann described existentialism as "The refusal to belong to any school of thought, the repudiation of the adequacy of any body of beliefs whatever, and especially of systems, and a marked dissatisfaction with traditional philosophy as superficial, academic, and remote from life".
Although there are some common tendencies amongst "existentialist" thinkers, there are major differences and disagreements among them (most notably the divide between atheistic existentialists like Sartre and theistic existentialists like Tillich); not all of them accept the validity of the term.
  
« Last Edit: December 24, 2011, 04:33:26 PM by Md.Nuruzzaman Moral »

Offline Md. Nuruzzaman Moral

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« Reply #35 on: December 24, 2011, 04:13:56 PM »
                                    Existence Precedes Essence
 
A central proposition of existentialism is that existence precedes essence. This amounts to the assertion that the outer manifestation (existence) of an entity is more determinative than its inner being (essence). Asserting that "existence precedes essence" is a rebellion against the Platonic Ideas, the Forms, which in Plato's philosophy are the true reality behind appearances of things in the world.
When it is said that man defines himself, it is often perceived as stating that man can "wish" to be something - anything, a bird, for instance - and then be it. According to Sartre's own account, however, this would rather be a kind of bad faith. What is meant by the statement is that man is  defined only insofar as he acts and that he is responsible for his actions. To clarify, it can be said that a man who acts cruelly towards other people is, by that act, defined as a cruel man and in that same instance, he (as opposed to his genes, for instance) is defined as being responsible for being this cruel man. Of course, the more positive therapeutic aspect of this is also implied: You can choose to act in a different way, and to be a good person instead of a cruel person. Here it is also clear that since man can choose to be either cruel or good, he is, in fact, neither of these things essentially.
To claim, then, that existence precedes essence is to assert that there is no such predetermined essence to be found in man. Instead, what one finds if one searches, is the concrete lived life of each individual. As Sartre puts it in his Existentialism is a Humanism: "man first of all exists, encounters himself, surges up in the world – and defines himself afterwards."
Existentialism tends to focus on the question of human existence and the conditions of this existence. What is meant by existence is the concrete life of each individual, and his concrete ways of being in the world. Even though this concrete individual existence must be the primary source of information in the study of man, certain conditions are commonly held to be "endemic" to human existence. These conditions are usually in some way related to the inherent meaninglessness or absurdity of the earth and its apparent contrast with our pre-reflexive lived lives which normally present themselves to us as meaningful. A central theme is that since the world "in-itself" is absurd, that is, "not fair," then a meaningful life can at any point suddenly lose all its meaning. The reasons why this happens are many, ranging from a tragedy that "tears a person's world apart," to the results of an honest inquiry into one's own existence. Such an encounter can make a person mentally unstable, and avoiding such instability by making people aware of their condition and ready to handle it is one of the central themes of existentialism. Albert Camus, for instance, famously claimed that "there is only one truly serious philosophical problem, and that is suicide."
Aside from these "psychological" issues, it is also claimed that these encounters with the absurd are where we are most in touch with our condition as humans. Such an encounter cannot be without philosophical significance, and existentialist philosophers derive many metaphysical theories from these encounters. These are often related to the self, consciousness and freedom as well as the nature of meaning.
« Last Edit: December 24, 2011, 04:33:37 PM by Md.Nuruzzaman Moral »

Offline Md. Nuruzzaman Moral

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« Reply #36 on: December 24, 2011, 04:14:40 PM »
                                               Atheistic Existentialism

Atheistic Existentialism is the form of existentialism most commonly encountered in today's society. What sets it apart from theistic existentialism is that it rejects the notion of a god and his transcendent will that should in some way dictate how we should live. It rejects the notion that there is any "created" meaning to life and the world, and that a leap of faith is required of man in order for him to live an authentic life.
In this kind of existentialism, belief in god is often considered a form of Bad Faith.
« Last Edit: December 24, 2011, 04:33:48 PM by Md.Nuruzzaman Moral »

Offline Md. Nuruzzaman Moral

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« Reply #37 on: December 24, 2011, 04:15:24 PM »
                                                         Theistic Existentialism
 
Theistic existentialism is, for the most part, Christian in its outlook, but there have been existentialists of other theological persuasions (like Judaism). The main thing that sets them apart from atheistic existentialists is that they posit the existence of God, and that He is the source of our being. It is generally held that God has designed the world in such a way that we must define our own lives, and each individual is held accountable for his or her own self-definition.
« Last Edit: December 24, 2011, 04:33:58 PM by Md.Nuruzzaman Moral »

Offline Md. Nuruzzaman Moral

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« Reply #38 on: December 24, 2011, 04:16:39 PM »
                                                                nihilism

Though nihilism isn't existentialism, and existentialism isn't nihilism, these two philosophies are often confused. While a sort of nihilistic existentialism does indeed exist, it isn't as radical as pure nihilism. Another reason why these philosophies are often confused is that Friedrich Nietzsche is a central philosopher in both.
What sets existential nihilists apart from pure nihilists is the fact that, while nihilists don't believe in any meaning at all, existential nihilists only believe this in relation to any sort of meaning to life (though this position is implied in "regular" nihilism, and existential nihilists may also subscribe to the full nihilistic view, existential nihilism is a separate view). While other existentialists will allow for meaning in people's lives (that meaning they themselves inject into it), existential nihilists will deny that this meaning is anything but self-deception. Existential nihilists could thus seem to be more pessimistic than the other existentialists, but even here, conclusions vary. Some will claim that the best thing to do is to commit suicide while others will claim that the lack of objective meaning to life means you should just do as you wish - a hedonism of sorts. There also are those who hold that nihilism is both a necessary burden of the authentic thinker and a source of dread, pushing them to hold in suspension his or her tendency to accept the reality of values while maintaining the unfulfilled desire for their discovery.
« Last Edit: December 24, 2011, 04:34:08 PM by Md.Nuruzzaman Moral »

Offline Md. Nuruzzaman Moral

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« Reply #39 on: December 24, 2011, 04:18:01 PM »
                                                  Kierkegaard and Nietzsche
 
The first philosophers considered fundamental to the existentialist movement were Søren Kierkegaard and Friedrich Nietzsche, though neither used the term "existentialism" and it is unclear whether they would have supported the existentialism of the 20th century. Their focus was on human experience, rather than the objective truths of math and science that are too detached or observational to truly get at human experience. Like Pascal, they were interested in people's concealment of the meaninglessness of life and the use of diversion to escape from boredom. But Pascal did not consider the role of making free choices, particularly regarding fundamental values and beliefs: such choices change the nature and identity of the chooser, in the view of Kierkegaard and Nietzsche.Kierkegaard's knight of faith and Nietzsche's Übermensch are examples of those who define the nature of their own existence. Great individuals invent their own values and create the very terms under which they excel.
Kierkegaard and Nietzsche were also precursors to other intellectual movements, including postmodernism, nihilism, and various strands of psychology.
« Last Edit: December 24, 2011, 04:34:18 PM by Md.Nuruzzaman Moral »

Offline Md. Nuruzzaman Moral

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« Reply #40 on: December 24, 2011, 04:19:10 PM »
                                          Heidegger and the German existentialists
 
One of the first German existentialists was Karl Jaspers, who recognized the importance of Kierkegaard and Nietzsche and attempted to build an "Existenz" philosophy around the two. Heidegger, who was influenced by Jaspers and the phenomenologist Edmund Husserl, wrote his most influential work Being and Time which postulates Dasein (dah-zine), translated as, all at once, "being here", "being there", and "being-in-the-world"—a being that is constituted by its temporality, illuminates and interprets the meaning of being in time. Dasein is sometimes considered the human subject, but Heidegger denied the Cartesian dualism of subject-object/mind-body.Although existentialists view Heidegger to be an important philosopher in the movement, he vehemently denied being an existentialist in the Sartrean sense, in his "Letter on Humanism".
« Last Edit: December 24, 2011, 04:34:31 PM by Md.Nuruzzaman Moral »

Offline Md. Nuruzzaman Moral

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« Reply #41 on: December 24, 2011, 04:19:58 PM »
                                    Sartre, Camus, and the French existentialists
 
Jean-Paul Sartre is perhaps the most well-known existentialist and is one of the few to have accepted being called an "existentialist". Sartre developed his version of existentialist philosophy under the influence of Husserl and German philosopher Martin Heidegger. Being and Nothingness is perhaps his most important work about existentialism. Sartre was also talented in his ability to espouse his ideas in different media, including philosophical essays, lectures, novels, plays, and the theater. No Exit and Nausea are two of his celebrated works. In the 1960s, he attempted to reconcile existentialism and Marxism in his work Critique of Dialectical Reason. A major theme throughout his writings was freedom and responsibility.
Albert Camus was a friend of Sartre, until their falling-out, and wrote several works with existential themes including The Rebel, The Stranger, The Myth of Sisyphus, and Summer in Algiers. Camus, like many others, rejected the existentialist label, and considered his works to be concerned with people facing the absurd. In The Myth of Sisyphus, Camus uses the analogy of the Greek myth to demonstrate the futility of existence. In the myth, Sisyphus is condemned for eternity to roll a rock up a hill, but when he reaches the summit, the rock will roll to the bottom again. Camus believes that this existence is pointless but that Sisyphus ultimately finds meaning and purpose in his task, simply by continually applying himself to it.
Critic Martin Esslin in his book Theatre of the Absurd pointed out how many contemporary playwrights such as Samuel Beckett, Eugene Ionesco, Jean Genet, and Arthur Adamov wove into their plays the existential belief that we are absurd beings loose in a universe empty of real meaning. Esslin noted that many of these playwrights demonstrated the philosophy better than did the plays by Sartre and Camus. Though most of such playwrights, subsequently labeled "Absurdist" (based on Esslin's book), denied affiliations with existentialism and were often staunchly anti-philosophical (for example Ionesco often claimed he identified more with 'Pataphysics or with Surrealism than with existentialism), the playwrights are often linked to existentialism based on Esslin's observation.[8]
Simone de Beauvoir, an important existentialist who spent much of her life alongside Sartre, wrote about feminist and existential ethics in her works, including The Second Sex and The Ethics of Ambiguity. Although often overlooked due to her relationship with Sartre, de Beauvoir integrated existentialism with other forms of thinking such as feminism, unheard of at the time, resulting in alienation from fellow writers such as Camus.
Frantz Fanon, a Martiniquan-born critic of colonialism, has been considered an important existentialist.[9]
Maurice Merleau-Ponty, an often overlooked existentialist, was for a time a companion of Sartre. His understanding of Husserl's phenomenology was far greater than that of Merleau-Ponty's fellow existentialists. It has been said that his work, Humanism and Terror, greatly influenced Sartre. However, in later years they were to disagree irreparably, dividing many existentialists such as de Beauvoir, who sided with Sartre. Michel Foucault would also be considered an existentialist through his use of history to reveal the constant alterations of created meaning, thus proving history's failure to produce a cohesive version of reality.
« Last Edit: December 24, 2011, 04:34:41 PM by Md.Nuruzzaman Moral »

Offline Md. Nuruzzaman Moral

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« Reply #42 on: December 24, 2011, 04:21:14 PM »
                                Dostoevsky, Kafka, and the literary existentialists

Many writers who are not usually considered philosophers have also had a major influence on existentialism. Among them, Czech author Franz Kafka and Russian author Fyodor Dostoevsky are most prominent. Kafka created often surreal and alienated characters who struggle with hopelessness and absurdity, notably in his most famous novella, The Metamorphosis, or in his master novel, The Trial. Dostoevsky's Notes from Underground details the story of a man who is unable to fit into society and unhappy with the identities he creates for himself. [paragraph needs citations and clarification.]
Many of Dostoevsky's novels, such as Crime and Punishment, covered issues pertinent to existential philosophy while offering story lines divergent from secular existentialism: for example in Crime and Punishment one sees the protagonist, Raskolnikov, experience existential crises and move toward a worldview similar to Christian Existentialism, which Dostoevsky had come to advocate.
In the 20th century, existentialism experienced a resurgence in popular art forms. In fiction, Hermann Hesse's 1928 novel Steppenwolf, based on an idea in Kierkegaard's Either/Or (1843),[specify] sold well in the West. Jack Kerouac and the Beat poets adopted existentialist themes. "Arthouse" films began quoting and alluding to existentialist thought and thinkers.
Existentialist novelists were generally seen as a mid-1950s phenomenon that continued until the mid- to late 1970s. Most of the major writers were either French or from French African colonies. Small circles of other Europeans were seen as literary precursors by the existentialists, but literary history increasingly has questioned the accuracy of this perception.
« Last Edit: December 24, 2011, 04:34:54 PM by Md.Nuruzzaman Moral »

Offline Md. Nuruzzaman Moral

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« Reply #43 on: December 24, 2011, 04:22:34 PM »
                                 Existential psychoanalysis and psychotherapy
 
One of the major offshoots of existentialism as a philosophy is existential psychology and psychoanalysis, which first crystallized in the work of Ludwig Binswanger, a clinician who was influenced by both Freud and Heidegger, and Sartre, who was not a clinician but wrote theoretical material about existential psychoanalysis. A later figure was Viktor Frankl, who had studied with Freud and Jung as a young man[citation needed]. His logotherapy can be regarded as a form of existential therapy. An early contributor to existential psychology in the United States was Rollo May, who was influenced by Kierkegaard. One of the most prolific writers on techniques and theory of existential psychology in the USA is Irvin D. Yalom. The person who has contributed most to the development of a European version of existential psychotherapy is the British-based Emmy van Deurzen.
With complete freedom to decide, and complete responsibility for the outcome of decisions, comes anxiety (angst). Anxiety's importance in existentialism makes it a popular topic in psychotherapy. Therapists often use existential philosophy to explain the patient's anxiety. Psychotherapists using an existential approach believe that a patient can harness his anxiety and use it constructively. Instead of suppressing anxiety, patients are advised to use it as grounds for change. By embracing anxiety as inevitable, a person can use it to achieve his or her full potential in life. Humanistic psychology also had major impetus from existential psychology and shares many of the fundamental tenets.
Terror management theory is a developing area of study within the academic study of psychology. It looks at what researchers claim to be the implicit emotional reactions of people that occur when they are confronted with the knowledge they will eventually die.
 
« Last Edit: December 24, 2011, 04:35:21 PM by Md.Nuruzzaman Moral »

Offline safiqul

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Re: Important Literary Theories
« Reply #44 on: December 29, 2011, 06:09:07 PM »
Nice post.
Md. Safiqul Islam
Senior Lecturer
Department of CSE
Daffodil International University,Dhaka