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This presentation is brought to you

by Katie Hardy and Gage Schaper

Major Figures
Ferdinand de Saussure - Often considered the father of structuralism.
Central notion of his teachings is that language may be analyzed as a
formal system of differential elements, apart from the messy dialectics of
real-time production and comprehension. Examples of these elements
include the notion of the linguistic sign, the signifier, the signified, and the
Claude Levi-Strauss - derived structuralism from a school of linguistics
whose focus was not on the meaning of the word, but the patterns that the
words form.
Jonathan Culler graduated from Harvard in 1966, current English
professor at Cornell. Voice of structuralism in America. Published
Structuralist Poetics
A.J. Greimas Lithuanian linguist who contributed to the theory of
Roland Barthes influenced the schools of critical theories such as
structuralism, semiotics, Marxism, existentialism, and post-structuralism.
Can be seen as an extension of Formalism due to the fact that both
Structuralism and Formalism devote their attention to matters of
literary form (i.e. structure) rather than social or historical content.

In addition, both Formalism and Structuralism intend to put the study
of literature into the realm of science, to evaluate it logically and

Also closely related to semiotics.

SEMIOTICS: study of sign processes or signification and
communication, signs and symbols. Also includes the study of how
meaning is constructed and undertstood.
Key Points
Analyzes pieces of work as textual

TEXTUAL: composed of signs, governed by conventions of meanings,
ordered according to a pattern of relationships.

*In short, to concentrate on patterns, both in the work and between multiple

Some structuralists (and a related school of critics called the Russian
Formalists) propose that all narratives can be considered variations on
universal narrative patterns.

*In short, any new story is considered a twist on an old story. For example,
the concept of Shakespeares Capulets and Montagues; two warring
families with children who fall in love. This clich is used multiple times with slight
Key Points Continued
Structuralism concentrates on the idea that we do not speak
language, but rather, language speaks us. It argues that the
systems of language, which have existed far longer than any
author today, already exist and we merely borrow words for our
use. In this way, there is no originality, only recreating the already

*In short, nothing is original. Every new work is based off another

Key Points Continued Even More
Saussure regarded the signifier (works, marks or s ymbols) as unrelated
to the signified (the actual concept) to which it referred.

Structuralists put a special emphasis on langue rather than on parole.

LANGUE: language when considering it a system of rules and
PAROLE: language when being used to express a concept.

*In short, Structuralism analyzes the placement and usage of words and
symbols, not of what the words and symbols actually represent.
HOWEVER, while plot may be a concept rather than a symbol,
Structuralism also compares and contrasts these to find patterns among
works of literature.

Enables both the reading of texts and the reading of cultures.