Vocabulary for Tyson ch. 7: Structuralist Criticism


1.        Structuralism (198-99): a method of systematizing human experience; looking for general, structures or principles that underlie and organize surface phenomena (classification), or looking at how a specific “texts” display these underlying principles (how a text belongs to a certain class); we impose these innate structures from our minds (our consciousness) to limit chaos; thus structuralism studies the “innate structures of human consciousness;” we create the world (202)

2.        Surface Phenomena (198): what we observe, participate in, and interact with daily—infinite, meaningless, and undifferentiated without structure/classification systems.

3.        Phonemes (198): fundamental units of sound recognized as meaningful by native speakers of a language; English has 31 and specific rules for their combinations (subject-verb-object); the smallest potentially significant unit of articulated sound in a language (from A Handbook of Literature); any minimal unit of speech sound in a language that can serve to distinguish one word from another; the P of PIT and the B of BIT are considered two different phonemes, while the unaspirated P of SPIN and the aspirated P of PIN are not different (from Websters Universal).

4.        Structures or Structural Systems (199): not physical entities but conceptual frameworks; it has the following three properties: 1-wholeness; 2-transformation; 3-self-regulation.

5.        Wholeness (199): system functions as a unit (synthesis)

6.        Transformation (199): system is not static but dynamic—“new material is always being structured by the system”—basic units of phonemes can be combined in infinitely new utterance combinations (words and sentences).

7.        Self-Regulation (200): all new combinations/transformations obey the laws of the systems always (!)

8.        Language (201): most fundamental structure of humankind and the one on which other structures depend; language mediates our experience (203); made up of signs that are constructs

9.        Diachronically (Saussure; 201): history of changes in individual words over time (OED).

10.     Synchronically (201): structural system of relationships among words as they are used at a given point in time.

11.     Langue/Language (201): the structure of language; the structure of literature as a whole and how individual literary works fit into that system; consists of sign systems

12.     Parole/Speech (201): individual utterances—surface phenomenon; helps to reveal Langue.

13.     Difference (202): our ability to identify an entity like a concept or sound is based on the difference we perceive between it and all other entities.

14.     Binary Oppositions (202): the human mind perceives difference in terms of opposites (up vs. down).

15.     Signs (202): words or the little black symbols on a page consists of signifiers and signifieds

16.     Signifier (202): sound-image or mental imprint of a linguistic sound; changeable; colors how we see the world

17.     Signified (202): the concept to which the signifier refers

18.     Structural Anthropology (Levi-Strauss; 203): there are underlying similar structures/myths between all cultures.

19.     Mythemes (204-05): fundamental units of myths, like hero kills monster, which also contains all this story’s variations.

20.     Semiotics (203; 205): applies structuralist insights to the study of sign systems especially from popular culture; sees language as the most fundamental sign system (206); also says signs=signifier + signified, but signifier =objects, gestures, activities, sounds, images—anything that can be perceived by the senses; thus anything is a text we can “read”; but of the three classes of signs, semiotics only looks at symbols (206); analyze the symbolic function of sign systems (207); everything is a text waiting to be read (208)

21.     Sign System (205): a non-linguistic object or behavior that can be analyzed as if it were a language (langue); how do non-linguistic objects “tell” us something?  the underlying message of a number of signs

22.     Index (206): a sign in which the signifier has a concrete, causal relationship to the signified (a knock on the door signifies that someone is there); ice crystals an index of winter

23.     Icon (207): a sign in which the signifier physically resembles the signified (painting is an icon in that it represents the subject it is painting); photo of icy pond is icon of winter

24.     Symbol (207): a sign in which the relationship between signifier and signified is neither natural nor necessary, but arbitrary, based on cultural conventions (a construct); a matter of interpretation and group agreement; description of winter might mean death

25.     Semiotic Codes (208): the underlying structural components that carry a non-verbal cultural message of some sort; seen by looking at a group of things synchronically (at the same time).

26.     Genres and Mythoi (N. Frye; 210): 4 narrative patterns that structure myth—comedy, romance, tragedy, irony/satire

27.     Mythos of summer or Romance (210):

28.     Mythos of winter or Irony/Satire (or realism; 210):

29.     Mythos of autumn or tragedy (211):

30.     Mythos of spring or Comedy (211):

31.     Master Plot or Quest Formula (212): conflict and romance; catastrophe and tragedy; disorder and confusion and irony/satire; triumph and comedy

32.     Archetypal Criticism 212

33.     Theory of Modes 212

34.     R. Scholes Modes 213

35.     Narratology 214

36.     A. J. Greimas 215: everything in binary oppositions

37.     Actants 215: character functions (slots filled in by characters which are surface phen.), one char. may have many functions and visa versa

38.     Plot 215: transfer of some entity from one actant to another

39.     T. Todorov 217: eventually gets to some cultural criticism (218)

40.     Propositions 217: combining a character with an irreducible action or attribute

41.     Sequence 218: a string of propositions

42.     Negation 218

43.     comparison 218

44.     modes 218

45.     states

46.     qualities

47.     conditions

48.     G. Genette 219: three levels of narrative: story; narrative; narration, which interact by means of three qualities: tense, mood, voice (219)

49.     Story 219:  the content and order

50.     Narrative: actual words or discourse on the page, the text itself from which the reader constructs story and narration, produced by the narrator and the act of narration; this is the focus of Genette’s work

51.     Narration: the act of telling the story to some audience

52.     Tense 219: arrangement of events over time based on order (story chronology vs narrative chronology); Duration (kind of pacing in a way; the length of time the events occur vs how many pages the event is given), and Frequency (event occurances vs descriptions of the same event being repeated)

53.     Mood 220: atmosphere of the narrative created by distance (narrator as a character/filter—more intrusive means more distance between narration and story; and more details also distance us--?) and Perspective (POV—narrator may be giving us another’s POV) and Voice (the voice of the narrator; may be different than the eyes we are seeing through; helps us determine narrator’s attitude toward the story and their reliability)

54.     J. Culler 222:

55.     Literary Competence 222: ideal readers are created—we internalize or learn the codes or rules of literature—structure of literature is really the structure of the system of interpretation we bring to it—lets see how it operates; assumptions are learned, are constructs, but lets see what they mean (rather than lets deconstruct them?); how do the codes of literary texts make us interpret them differently than other kinds of texts?  is this at all related to reader-response??

56.     The convention of distance and impersonality 222: when we know we have fiction in front of us, we automatically create? fictinal distance and impersonality (vs when we have a non-fiction); this codes enables all the others

57.     Naturalization 223: when we transform a literary strange form into something we can make sense of in our world…we assume metaphor is symbol or fig. rather than literal; we assume narrator speaks, not author.

58.     The Rule of Significance 223: we pay more attention to a literary work—it is expressing a significant attitude about an important problem (we read under the surface more

59.     The Rule of Metaphorical Coherence 223: two components of a metaphor have a consistent relationship within the context of the work—drifters, dark and dreary sky

60.     The Rule of Thematic Unity 223: is why there is a rule of metaphorical coherence—our expectation that a literary work has a unified coherent theme or point; we create thematic unity within three patterns (theme as binary opposition; theme as resolution of binary opposition; theme as displacement of binary opposition by a third term—good vs evil absorbed by Nature)