Claude Lévi-Strauss and Structuralism

CLAUDE LÉVI-STRAUSS (1908-2009) Structuralism and Anthropology Although it has long roots, stretching back to the beginning of the twentieth century, Structuralism found a home in philosophy and reigned as the leading movement from the beginning of the 1950s to the...

How Structuralism Became “Post”

THE STRUCTURE OF STRUCTURALISM Structuralism Every society has its songs, its dances, the stories it tells, the myths it makes, the histories it writes. Every culture has ways of loving and mating, way of forming families and raising children. Each tribe has its...

Jean-François Lyotard and the Figural, Part Two

Discours/Figure (1971) Part Two: Veduta In 1971, in the wake of Jacques Derrida’s 1966 presentation Structure, Sign, and Play in the Discourse of the Human Sciences at Johns Hopkins University, the Deconstruction of Structuralism was well under way....

Jean-François Lyotard and the Figural, Part One

Discours/Figure (1971) Part One Perhaps because Jean-François Lyotard was a prolific and sometimes too hasty writer (as he termed himself), the reader is a witness to the development of the philosopher over time. Discours, figure was translated into English decades...

Jean-François Lyotard on the Sublime, Part Three

Lessons on the Analytic of the Sublime Part Three In Ticket to a New Decor, Jean-François Lyotard wrote of “anamesis,” a key concept in his account of the sublime. In the Platonic sense, anamesis is a form of pre-conscious collective memory that must be...

Jean-François Lyotard and the Sublime, Part Two

Lessons on the Analytic of the Sublime (1991) Part Two  The definition of aesthetics has always been difficult to grasp and perhaps what is more interesting in attempts to define aesthetics is the fact that in the middle of the eighteenth century, philosophers deemed...

Jean-François Lyotard and the Sublime, Part One

Lessons on the Analytic of the Sublime (1991) Part One The way in which the mind of Jean-François Lyotard worked was slow and systematic and thorough. The notion of the potential injustice in language games appeared in The Postmodern Condition: A Report on...

Art and “Thick Description,” Part Two

ART AND MATERIAL CULTURE CLIFFORD GEERTZ and ART HISTORY Gathered together at the Warburg Library and impacted by the neo-Kantian revival in the beginning of the Twentieth Century, Aby Warburg and Ernst Cassirer created diachronic analyses of cultural symbols from the...

Art and “Thick Description,” Part One

ART AND MATERIAL CULTURE CLIFFORD GEERTZ and PHILOSOPHY  “Art, Clifford Geertz once remarked, “is notoriously hard to talk about.”  However, Clifford Geertz provided art history with a way to talk about art through material culture. A term familiar to anthropology,...

Postmodernism and the Meaning of Art

RE-DEFINING  ART AS TEXT in the POSTMODERN ERA Postmodernism promises endless creative play in contrast to Modernism, which, according to Roland Barthes (1916-1980), was a fraudulent attempt to find the universal in every solution. For Barthes, Structuralism, or the...

Postmodernism and Heteroglossia, Part Two

POSTMODERNISM AND HETEROGLOSSIA PART TWO Hybridity and Pluralism In her 1966 essay, “Word, Dialogue and Novel,” Julia Kristeva (1941-) privileged the term “Text,” insisting that the subject is composed of discourses, created by a signifying system.  The...

Postmodernism and Heteroglossia, Part One

THEORIES OF THE POSTMODERN PART ONE Texts and Textuality The phenomenon that would be known by the 1980s as Postmodern theory or “theory” consisted of servings of a French Potée from the 1950s and 1960s, full of different ingredients, a stew of linguistic...

Postmodernism and the Loss of Mastery

THEORIES OF POSTMODERNISM Feminism, Post-Colonialism, and the Loss of Mastery Over the World Picture In 1986 Postmodern painter Mark Tansey  (1949-) produced a large orangish monochrome painting of a long white fallen column. Broken in three places and lying next to a...

Postmodernism and Intertextuality

THEORIES OF THE POSTMODERN INTERTEXTUALITY Bakhtin and Kristeva Working within the confines of the Soviet Union, a place where words, thoughts and deeds were monitored, the literary theorist Mikhail Mikhailovich Bakhtin (1895-1975) examined, in an intellectually safe...

Michel Foucault: Discipline and Punish

MICHEL FOUCAULT (1926 – 1986) PART FIVE Discipline and Punish. The Birth of the Prison (1975) The opening pages of Discipline and Punish by Michel Foucault were one of the best representations of his long term project of making history or the past...

Michel Foucault: “What is an Author?”

MICHEL FOUCAULT (1926 – 1984) PART FOUR What is an Author? (1969) To read Michel Foucault, is to feel the grounds of one’s belief systems shift underneath one’s feet. For Foucault, as for Roland Barthes (1916-1980), the notion of the author must come into...

Michel Foucault: “This is not a Pipe”

MICHEL FOUCAULT (1926 – 1984) PART THREE This is not a Pipe (1968)  Michel Foucault’s essay, This is not a Pipe, his contemplation on a famous painting by René Magritte, La trahison des images (Ceci n’est pas une pipe) (1929) can be read as a...

Michel Foucault and Archaeology

MICHEL FOUCAULT (1926 – 1984) PART  TWO The Archaeology of Knowledge (1969)  Like many French intellectuals, Michel Foucault witnessed the now-legendary days of May, 1968 in which the students and later the proletariat or working class rose up against the forces...
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