Literary Criticism

This site contains my work during the course of English 300 at Montana State University-Bozeman in the Autumn of 2004.


I am a senior at Montana State University working for a degree in history with a teaching option and also a minor in English. Currently I am working with the students at Bridger Alternative here in town and I am loving every minute of it. I can't wait to get out into the field and teach.

Friday, November 19, 2004

Jacques Derrida

Derrida believed there is no reading outside the text, this became a radical, new definition of how to study a text. Yet people as texts are also to be read, as are cultural phenomena.
I do not agree with Derrida on this because as a history major, events are analyazed by events that occur around them, including people, time, religion, culture, etc. By splitting texts, people etc. into different types to be analyzed is foolish, because how can one fully understand one without the other?
  • Literary Criticism 40 years ago was easier because it was only the analysis of the text, and not of gender, race, class psychoanalysis, etc.
  • Realists-real, substantial link between word and word represented
  • Nominalists-words don't mean anything, they're just names, an arbitrary collection of words

p. 1817-1818 "There is nothing outside the text." Everything is textual, everything can be read and interpreted, therefore there is no outside to the text, writing is superior to speech for Deconstructionists.

  • New Criticism: everything is language, everything is text
  • Logocentrism: reason-a western privilege, truth, reality, facts
  • Phonocentrism: Spoken word is better than the written word, from Plato
  • Transcendental Signify: abiding nostalgia for the perfect world that we need to reclaim, but Derrida says there is none, there is nothing that determines us, world is very much random and absurd
  • Writing is fundamental, especially in the western world, even Plato who wrote speech was better than writing had to write it down.
  • King of Egypt named writing pharmakon (drug) which means "remedy" as well as "poison"
  • Deconstructionists had to turn argument over to prove the opposite was true. Is this what Zak is attempting at his website with the abortion issue? Check it out at


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