Synopses & Reviews
An illustrated tour through the landscape of structuralism and poststructuralism
-- A good synopsis of 20th-century thought for readers who don't have time to study the topic in depth
Structuralism and Poststructuralism for Beginners helps the reader make sense of the modern and postmodern obsessions with language and with the "disappearance of the individual", ideas that unite the work of several prominent 20th-century theorists. It starts by introducing the seminal linguistic work of Ferdinand de Saussure, then outlines the key ideas of the big names in French thought between 1950 and 1980: anthropologist and literary critic Claude Levi-Strauss, semiologist Roland Barthes, Marxist philosopher Louis Althusser, psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan, historian Michel Foucault, and deconstructionist Jacques Derrida.
The book shows how structuralism, which is the view that the human mind is universal in its structure and processes data in terms of general formulae, supplanted existentialism and phenomenology. It then discusses how structuralism was replaced in turn by poststructuralism, which claims that it is impossible to give a theoretically complete and consistent account of human life and language. In keeping with the trend in modern philosophy, the book's emphasis is on Poststructuralism.
All of this is quite confusing -- with thinkers arguing back and forth between continuity and discontinuity, consistency and inconsistency, construction and deconstruction -- but Structuralism and Poststructuralism for Beginners makes it as simple as possible with its line drawings, cartoons, clear explanations, and glossary of terms. An excellent book for anyone who wants an overview of theimportant theories of this century and the people and history behind them.
An illustrated tour through the mysterious lanscape of Structuralism and Poststructuralism.