Derrida’s Concept of Differance

A concept introduced by Derrida, differance is a pun on “difference” and “deferment”, and is that attribute of language, by which meaning is generated because of a word’s difference from other words in a signifying system, and at the same time, meaning is inevitably and infinitely deferred or postponed, is constantly under erasure and can be glimpsed only through “aporias” or deadlocks in understanding.

Differance undermines the unity and coherence of a text when a deconstructive reading is performed. Consequently, meaning is disseminated across the text and can be found only in traces, in the unending chain of signification. In the free play of meanings, one signifier leads to a signified, which itself becomes a signifier for another signified and so on, such that the ultimate signified (the “Transcendental Signified”), that which transcends all signifiers is never attained.

Differance has become a prominent concept in the parlance of all the major theories of the post 1960 period — Derrida’s concept of “ecriture”, Lacan’s concept of the ‘inalienable split” that inhabits the self, in its longing for the lost and unattainable wholeness, Cixous’ “ecriture feminine”, are all marked by difference, thereby giving rise to multitudes of meanings in each aspect.

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  1. Postmodernism – Literary Theory and Criticism Notes
  2. Key Theories of Jacques Derrida – Literary Theory and Criticism Notes

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