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Post-structuralism

Barthes, S/Z, Anti-Oedipus

deconstruction structuralists barthes rules

is often taken to be synonymous with Deconstruction, and it is true that Deconstruction has seemed to be the main form that Post-structuralism has taken. Without Structuralism, Deconstruction would not have been possible; and it does offer both a continuation and a reversal of Structuralism's assumptions and practices, seeking gaps, lapses, and inconsistencies where Structuralism sought rules and patterns of coherence. Post-structuralism more broadly is any practice or way of looking which does the same: it might go ‘beyond structure’ without being interested in dismantling the structure. As Jonathan Culler suggests in his Barthes (1983), we should not exaggerate or make too tidy the differences between Structuralism and its successor. Structuralism posited a general science of signs and conventions, but often focused on exceptional cases; Post-structuralism puts everything into question, but needs the concept of the general rule in order for the questioning to become visible. Roland Barthes's S/Z (1970), often taken as a key work of Post-structuralism, can be seen to look both ways: towards the rules of narrative and social signification and away from them. Other writers and thinkers who were Structuralists before they came to be regarded as Post-structuralists are Jacques Lacan, Michel Foucault, and Julia Kristeva. More avidly Post-structuralist are Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, notably in their Anti-Oedipus (1972), which seeks to reclaim schizophrenia as a political arm against totalizing systems.

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