Jacques Lacan - post structuralismPost structuralism is a movement that came to prominence in 1960s. The movement is a response to structuralism. It considers the complexity of human systems to state that following set structures as per the tenets of structuralism could not always be possible. The structuralists believed that all the aspects of human life could be understood by analyzing them on the basis of some identifiable structures. It did not offer space for identification of variety and, rather, gave more significance to comparison between various concepts under study on the basis of similarities in their respective structures. Post-structuralists, however, understand and respect the capability of human life to display multiplicity when the same concept is applied in different situations.

Jacques Derrida - Post structuralismThe most well known of the post-structuralist authors include Jacques Derrida, Michel Foucault, Jacques Lucan, Gilles Deleuze, Judith Butler, Julia Kristeva and Jean Baudrillard. The attitude of all the authors belonging to this movement towards was not strictly the same. But, all of them believed in insufficiency of structures for a detailed study of all the literary creations. Post-structuralism also gets associated to postmodernism due to the opposition it shows to structuralism. This is so since structuralism stands, more or less, against humanism preferring structures over assortment in human life.

Post-structuralism has also had its opponents. It has been criticized over issues like being too complex, particularly in linguistic sense; being too revolutionary; and, being relativist.

Michel Foucault - Post structuralismThe most important tenets of post-structuralism get expressed through works like ‘The Death of the Author’. It has given rise to a belief that is often termed as ‘decentralization of the author’. It states that the intentions of the writer in creating a text do not hold any importance for the reader to perceive the meaning of the text. Thus, it rejects the belief that a text could have a particular meaning. According to post-structuralism, every reader is free to interpret a text as per his perception and, therefore, there is no limit for the number of meanings that could be associated to a text. Even the personal issues of a reader like gender, race, class, etc. could have a say in the interpretation of a text. So, a post-structuralist critic has to be aware of all these possibilities. He should be ready for variety of meanings in relation to a particular work, some of which may even oppose one another.

The relationship of a text to the author and the reader, respectively, gets the most unique treatment in this literary movement. According to it, the reader, rather than the reader, holds the central importance in the process of analysis of a text. Moreover, external factors like social situations, other literary creations, cultural beliefs, etc. are also believed to be capable of affecting the analysis of a text.

A sort of confusion arises when structuralism and post-structuralism are studied side by side. This is particularly so since there have been many authors who acted as structuralists and also went on to be prominent post-structuralists. Barthes, Lacan and Foucault form some of the most common examples.

Multiple Choice Questions On Post-Structuralism

1. Post-structuralism, as a movement, developed in:

  1. England
  2. Wales
  3. Italy
  4. France

2. Post structuralism is a movement that came to prominence first during the 1960s. the movement was basically a response against:

  1. Colonialism
  2. Humanism
  3. Structuralism
  4. Post-colonialism

3. Two of these authors are considered to be most prominent figures during the early years of post-structuralist movement. Identify the pair:

  1. Jacques Derrida and Roland Barthes
  2. Roland Barthes and Levi Strauss
  3. Jacques Derrida and Levi Strauss
  4. Roland Barthes and john Searle

4. When was Barthes’ ‘The Death of the Author’ published?

  1. 1967
  2. 1965
  3. 1962
  4. 1971

5. Consider the following statements:

  1. Barthes had originally been a structuralist and shifted on to be a post structuralist later on.
  2. His ‘The Death of the Author’ is based on some basic aspects of post-structuralism.
  3. His ‘The Death of the Author’ was published in 1965.
  1. All are correct
  2. Only I and II are correct
  3. Only I and III are correct
  4. Only III is correct

6. The famous 1976 lecture series concerned to post-structuralism is associated to:

  1. Barthes
  2. Strauss
  3. Foucault
  4. Derrida

7. Which of the following noticed Post-structuralism to be associated to “a sort of general feeling that the ground was crumbling beneath our feet, especially in places where it seemed most familiar, most solid, and closest to us, to our bodies, to our everyday gestures.”

  1. ‘Lecture series’ by Foucault
  2. ‘The Death of the Author’ by Barthes
  3. ‘Elements of Semiology’ by Barthes
  4. None of these

8. ‘The Open Work’ was created by:

  1. Ronald Barthes
  2. Umberto Eco
  3. Lévi-Strauss
  4. Jacques Derrida

9. The concept of ‘Metalanguage’ was developed by:

  1. Derrida
  2. Levi-Strauss
  3. Searle
  4. Barthes

10. The concept of ‘Metalanguage’ was mentioned in:

  1. Elements of Semiology
  2. The Death of the Author
  3. Elements of Semiology
  4. Lecture Series

11. Choose the proper chronological order:

  1. ‘The Death of the Author’ by Barthes, ‘Elements of Semiology’ by Barthes, ‘Lecture Series’ by Foucault
  2. ‘Elements of Semiology’ by Barthes, ‘The Death of the Author’ by Barthes , ‘Lecture Series’ by Foucault
  3. ‘Elements of Semiology’ by Barthes, ‘Lecture Series’ by Foucault, ‘The Death of the Author’ by Barthes
  4. ‘Lecture Series’ by Foucault,‘The Death of the Author’ by Barthes, ‘Elements of Semiology’ by Barthes

12. Four writers were collectively known as the “Gang of Four” of structuralism. Who of them was the only one to not become a major post-structuralist as well?

  1. Ronald Barthes
  2. Umberto Eco
  3. Lévi-Strauss
  4. Jacques Derrida

13. Who considered the development of post-structuralism to be “perhaps the best known example of a silly but noncatastrophic phenomenon”?

  1. Ronald Barthes
  2. Umberto Eco
  3. Lévi-Strauss
  4. John Searle

14. Post-structuralism gets associated most commonly to structuralism. However, it also gets associated to another literary movement which is:

  1. Postmodernism
  2. Post-colonialism
  3. Colonial literature
  4. Neo classicism

15. The concept which establishes an association between post-structuralism and postmodernism is:

  1. Humanism
  2. Structuralism
  3. Classicism
  4. Common literary beliefs

Answer keys of  MCQ on Post Structuralism

  1. d
  2. c
  3. a
  4. a
  5. b
  6. c
  7. a
  8. b
  9. d
  10. a
  11. a
  12. c
  13. d
  14. a
  15. a

Further Reading

Post Structuralism in Wiki

Jacques Derrida

Michel Foucault

Jacques Lacan