Abstract

Abstract:

The turn to poststructuralism is frequently linked to a particular time and place, the 1966 conference at Johns Hopkins University where Jacques Derrida’s “Structure, Sign, and Play in the Discourse of the Human Sciences” offered a critique of Claude Levi-Strauss. An analysis of the claims actually made there by Derrida shows that despite his celebrated distinction between two interpretations of interpretation, he insists on the impossibility of choosing, and that what he in fact resists is the “empiricism” of structuralist projects, which attempt to provide accounts of the functioning of cultural systems (as opposed to readings that undertake a critique of the concepts they use). Derrida’s essay thus provided an excuse in America, where it was taken for granted that the task of criticism was to produce interpretations of literary works, to reject the difficult work of poetics, writ large, and to embrace a self-critical hermeneutics under the name of “poststructuralism.”

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Additional Information

ISSN
1080-6539
Print ISSN
0300-7162
Pages
pp. 28-49
Launched on MUSE
2020-12-03
Open Access
No
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