Author Archives

  • Modernism: On or About December 1910 Human Nature Changed

    “On or about December 1910 human nature changed.” – Virginia Woolf wrote in her essay Mr Bennett and Mrs. Brown in 1924. “All human relations shifted,” Woolf continued, “and when human relations change there is at the same time a change… Read More ›

  • Techniques of Fragmentation Used in Modernism

    Modernism, which emerged out of an “immense panorama of futility and anarchy“, rightly represented in Klee’s painting, The Angel of History, found its radical expression in literature through the techniques of impressionism and subjectivity as exemplified in the stream-of-consciousness method… Read More ›

  • Modernist Metropolis

    Modernism was the first literary movement to take urban life as a given, as a form of experience that was categorically different from any other kind of life. Baudelaire was fascinated by the “flaneur”, the man who strolls the city… Read More ›

  • Modernist Use of Myth

    In an age that was wrought with scientism, technology and loss of spirituality, many of the major modernist writers realised and asserted the employment of integrative mythology in order to give “shape and significance” to the contemporary fragmented reality. The… Read More ›

  • Modernism: Literature between the Wars

    In 1924, Virginia Woolf wrote, “On or about December 1910 human nature changed. All human relations shifted, and when human relations change there is at the same time a change in religion, conduct, politics and literature.” It was an era… Read More ›

  • Decanonisation

    In the wake on Postmodernist critique of modernism and liberal humanism, and with the vogue of Derridean deconstruction and decentering of the subject/centre, the Western canon of “great” books, not only in literature but in all areas of humanistic study, has… Read More ›

  • Julia Kristeva: Intertextuality

    A term popularised by Julia Kristeva in her analysis of Bakhtin’s concepts Dialogism and Carnival, intertextuality is a concept that informs structuralist poststructuralist deliberations in its contention that individual texts are inescapably related to other texts in a matrix of… Read More ›

  • The Yale Critics

    The Yale School is the name given to an influential group of literary critics, theorists, and philosophers of literature who were influenced by Jacques Derrida’s philosophy of deconstruction. Many of the theorists were affiliated with Yale University in the late… Read More ›

  • Aporia

    The word “aporia” originally came from Greek which, in philosophy, meant a philosophical puzzle or state of being in puzzle, and a rhetorically useful expression of doubt. In contemporary theoretical parlance, the term has more been associated with deconstructive criticism,… Read More ›

  • Deconstruction

    Deconstruction involves the close reading of texts in order to demonstrate that any given text has irreconcilably contradictory meanings, rather than being a unified, logical whole. As J. Hillis Miller, the preeminent American deconstructionist, has explained in an essay entitled Stevens’… Read More ›

  • Jacques Derrida: Transcendental Signified

    Upholding the notion of decentering, Derrida asserts that a “fixed” structure is a myth, and that all structures desire “immobility” beyond free play, which is impossible. The assumption of a centre expresses the desire for a “reassuring certitude” which stands… Read More ›

  • Derrida’s Formulation of Ecriture

    Derrida’s formulation of “ecriture” emerges from his criticism of the most significant binaries of speech and writing. Discussing these binaries in his essay Signature Event Context (1972), in an attempt to reorient the established hierarchy of speech over wrifing, (what he… Read More ›

  • Derrida: Trace and Play

    With the death of the author as theorised by Barthes, the text gets liberated and revels in an endless freeplay of meanings, and escapes from all forms of textual authoriy. As words/ signs erupt into multitudes of signifiers that differ and defer… Read More ›

  • 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… Read More ›

  • Derrida’s Notion of the Centre

    Decentering in poststructuralism is a consequence of Derrida’s critique of binary oppositions, especially of speech/writing, where he accused Saussure of privileging speech over writing, owing to the presence, and authority of the speaker. Terming it as phonocentrism, which is a… Read More ›

  • Derrida’s Critique of Logocentrism

    Derrida’s concept of deconstruction displaced structuralism and undertook to decentre or subvert the traditional claims for the existence of all foundations such as knowledge, meaning, truth and the subject. Derrida identifies in all of Western philosophic traditions, a logocentrism or… Read More ›

  • Jacques Derrida’s Structure, Sign and Play

    Jacques Derrida, A French philosopher, critically engages  with structuralism. He comments on what the structure is and engages with the politics of the structure itself, what he terms as the “structurality of structure”. This essay showcases the extent of limits… Read More ›

  • Philosophical Influences on Poststructuralism

    Unlike structuralism that derived from linguistics, poststructuralism owes its origin to philosophy, which as a discipline, always tends to emphasise the difficulty in achieving complete and secure knowledge about things. This point is encapsulated in Nietzsche’s famous remark: “There are… Read More ›

  • Poststructuralism

    The second half of the twentieth century, with its torturous experiences of the World Wars, Holocaust and the advent of new technologies, witnessed revolutionary developments in literary theory that were to undermine several of the established notions of Western literary… Read More ›

  • Myth Criticism of Northrop Frye

    Northrop Frye’s Anatomy of Criticism (1957) introduced the archetypal approach called Myth Criticism, combining the typological interpretation of the Bible and the conception of imagination prevalent in the writings of William Blake. Frye continued the formalist emphasis of New Criticism… Read More ›