Structuralism: Prominent Critics, Ferdinand De Saussure and MCQ

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Structuralism: Ferdinand De Saussure, Claude Levi Strauss, Roland Barthes | English Literature
  • Structuralism is an intellectual movement which started in France in 1950s.
  • Key works of Structuralism was in French it began to Be translated in 1970 into English.

Prominent Critics

  • Ferdinand De Saussure – “In a language there are only differences, without fixed terms.”
  • Claude Levi Strauss
  • Roland Barthes

Ferdinand De Saussure

  • Concentrated on pattern and functions of language
  • Sign, Signifier, signified
  • For example- chair, tree, or key (concept) and picture of it (sound image) .
  • Sign unites a concept and a sound image, where signified is the concept and signifier are the sound image.
Ferdinand De Saussure

Relationship between signifier and signified is:

1. Arbitrary

2. Relational

  • Language constitute our world that is, meaning is always attributed to the object or idea by the human mind.
  • Langue- Lang involves the principles of language, without which meaningful utterances would not be possible.
  • Parole- it is the utterance. A personal phenomenon of a language as series of speech.
  • Claude Levi Strauss
  • The anthropologist Claude Levi Strauss applied the structuralist out look to the interpretation of myth. Studied Oedipus Rex by putting it in larger context of tales connected to the city of Thebes.
  • Contrasts- Animal- human/Son- Father/village- town/male- female
  • Roland Barthes – Mythologies (1957)
  • He looked at a host of items which had never been subjected to intellectual analysis, such as: the difference between boxing and wrestling; significance of eating chips and eating steak.
  • Each of these items he placed within a wider structure of values, beliefs, and beliefs as a key to understanding it.
Ferdinand De Saussure

Major writers and works:

  • Jonathan Culler – Structuralist Poetics
  • Terence Hawkes – Structuralist and Semiotics (came out in 1977as the first book in a new seriea published by Methuen called “New Accents” .
  • Frank Kermode (British Critic) wrote about Roland Barthes.
  • David Lodge – combined ideas of structuralism with traditional approaches in “Working with Structuralism” (1980)
  • Roland Barthes- The Pleasure of the Text
  • Robert Scholes – Structuralism in Literature
  • Other writers – Vladimir Propp, Tzvetan Todorov, William Golding, Toni Morrison, ColinMacCab, Jaques Lacan.


1. A method that involves deleting words from a text and having readers fill these gaps by drawing inferences from context and overall structure is-

A) Cloze procedure

B) Close test

C) Maze test

D) Bowdlerize

2. Who wrote ‘working with structuralism’ .

A) Michel Foucault

B) David Lodge

C) Lacan

D) Frank Kermode

3. In how many lexies (unit of meaning) Balzac divides his work ‘Sarrasine’ ?

A) 561

B) 30

C) 4

D) 365

4. Who is the writer of ‘The Death of the Author’ ?

A) Jonathan Culler

B) Terence Hawkes

C) Roland Barthes

D) Colin MacCabe

5. Who said, “The work will be considered as the manifestation of an abstract structure, merely one of its possible realizations; an understanding of that structure will be the real goal of structural analysis” ?

A) Claude Levi-Strauss

B) Tzvetan Todorov

C) Ferdinand de Saussure

D) Toni Morrison

6. A couple of Saussure ′ s students compiled his lecture notes on language into a book that would be called what?

A) Death of Author

B) Grimm՚s complete Fairy Tales

C) Course in General Linguistics

D) Mythologies

7. Which of the following critics is associated with post Structuralism rather than Structuralism?

A) Michel Foucault

B) Jaques Lacan

C) Roman Jacobson

D) Barthes

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