On Deconstruction: Theory and Criticism After Structuralism

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With an emphasis on readers and reading, the author considers deconstruction in terms of the questions raised by psychoanalytic, feminist, and reader-response criticism. As a result, this book is both an authoritative synthesis of Derrida's thought and an analysis of the often-problematic relation between his philosophical writings and the work of literary critics.

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User Review  - stillatim - LibraryThing

I read this after Culler's 'Structuralist Poetics' book, and it's more or less more of the same: excellent exposition of the theory in question, which reads like walking through knee deep oatmeal ... Read full review

Contents

PREFACE
3
INTRODUCTION
17
Chapter One READERS AND READING
31
Copyright

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About the author (1982)

Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Cornell University, Culler has played an important role in the dissemination of structuralist and poststructuralist theory in the U.S. academy. His Structuralist Poetics (1975) was one of the first books to survey the new continental theory, and it included a bibliography with all the English translations of that work then available. As the title suggests, Culler's book concentrates on structuralist literary analysis, explicating in particular what various continental critics had to say about the "deep structures" or codes governing literary production as a mode of discourse with an apparent radical diversity of texts and "surface structures." He also covers some of the background to structuralist literary theory. Interestingly, Culler also develops in this book a theory of reading that is not quite structuralist, although it does make use of a structuralist vocabulary and some structuralist ideas. The Pursuit of Signs (1981) is, the second in his trilogy of introductions to this theory. It offers explanations of poststructuralist theory, which is as much a response to as a development of structuralist theory, whose premises it frequently rejects. Just one year later, Culler published a supplement to this volume, On Deconstruction (1982), devoted not only to the work of Derrida but also to the work of American deconstructionists, who were sometimes elaborating deconstruction in more obviously political directions; for example, by generating feminist deconstructive analyses. Culler has continued to interpret Continental theory and theorists for U.S. audiences in his more recent publications. A prolific author, he has also published books about nineteenth-century French literature and culture, the field in which he did his graduate work, and books or essays on a range of other topics which he addresses from the perspective of poststructuralist theory, including puns, tourism, and trash.

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