heterogeneous works of a series of mid-20th-century French and continental philosophers and critical theorists

Post-structuralism is a label formulated by American academics to denote the heterogeneous works of a series of mid-20th-century French and continental philosophers and critical theorists who came to international prominence in the 1960s and '70s. A major theme of post-structuralism is instability in the human sciences, due to the complexity of humans themselves and the impossibility of fully escaping structures in order that we might study them.

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  • Systems art shares its roots with 'post-structuralism'; the critical discourse from the arts that can account for both 'open' system of structural relations and 'death of the author'; where the 'reader' is credited with an active part in emergent, multiple and evolving interpretations of a cultural artefact.
    • Katerina Alexiou, ‎Jeffrey Johnson, ‎Theodore Zamenopoulos (2009). Embracing Complexity in Design, p. 135
  • Post-structuralism takes as its theoretical object “structuralism,” whereas postmodernism takes as its theoretical object “modernism.” Post-structuralism can be characterized as a mode of thinking, a style of philosophizing, and a kind of writing. Yet the term should not be used to convey a sense of homogeneity, singularity and unity. More generally, it is a label used in the English-speaking academic community to describe a distinctively philosophical response to the structuralism.
    • Nigel Blake, ‎Paul Smeyers, ‎Richard D. Smith (2008). The Blackwell Guide to the Philosophy of Education, p. 60
  • Post-structuralism is among other things a kind of theoretical hangover from the failed uprising of ‘68, a way of keeping the revolution warm at the level of language, blending the euphoric libertarianism of that moment with the stoical melancholia of its aftermath.
  • We do not need French post-structuralism, whose pedantic jargon, clumsy convolutions, and prissy abstractions have spread throughout academe and the arts and are now blighting the most promising minds of the next generation. This is a major crisis if there ever was one, and every sensible person must help bring it to an end.
    • Camille Paglia Sex, Art and American Culture : New Essays (1992) p. ix
  • Deleuze is a key figure in postmodern French philosophy. Considering himself an empiricist and a vitalist, his body of work, which rests upon concepts such as multiplicity, constructivism, post-structuralism,difference and desire, stands at a substantial remove from the main traditions of 20th century Continental thought. His thought locates him as an influential figure in present-day considerations of society, creativity and subjectivity. Notably, within his metaphysics he favored a Spinozian concept of a plane of immanence with everything a mode of one substance, and thus on the same level of existence.
  • Post-Structuralism is a reaction to structuralism and works against seeing language as a stable, closed system. It is a shift from seeing the poem or novel as a closed entity, equipped with definite meanings which it is the critic's task to decipher, to seeing literature as irreducibly plural, an endless play of signifiers which can never be finally nailed down to a single center, essence, or meaning.
  • During the 1960s, Barth and Foucault were already placing a question-mark against the figure of the author, and urging us to study discourses rather than individual authors and texts. During the 1970s Derrida became celebrated for raising radical doubts about our capacity to offer interpretations of texts at all. He popularised a tendency to emphasise ambiguity, lack of closure, the impossibility of ever ascribing intentions to authors with any degree of assurance. For a time this approach enjoyed an immense vogue, especially in the United States. I should add that, while these movements gave rise to sometimes bitter debates, I myself sympathised to a considerable degree with much of what these post-structuralists wanted to say.
  • The negations of post-structuralism and of certain varieties of deconstruction are precisely as dogmatic, as political as were the positivist equations of archival historicism. The "emptiness of meaning" postulate is no less a priori, no less a case of despotic reductionism than were, say, the axioms of economic and psycho-sociological causality in regard to the generation of meaning in literature and the arts in turn-of-the-century pragmatism and scientism.
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