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absence/presence

Example of binary opposition, whereby, according to structuralist linguistics and, sub


or, in fact, the concept articulated by such a term, generates its meaning without imp
necessary implication of one in the other. Jacques Lacan draws on the linguistic work
absence/presence in the symbolic order (Introducing Literary Theories. A Guide and
author:

Poststructuralist criticism challenges the category of the author as omniscient or the


authority; meaning is not limited to, fixed by or located in the person of the author.
authority

The power that comes from being the originator or author (from which the word deri
meaning when interpreters turn to the biographies or the known intentions of the au
Glossary, 293).
binary opposition:

the principle of contrast between two mutually exclusive terms: on/off, up/down, le
Derrida) seek to destabilize these oppositions (sometimes referred to in deconstructi
term. Poststructuralists also argue that each term of the binary is dependent on the
colonialism

The direct political control of one country or society by another and refers first of all
rule in India. The concept of colonialism has also been of great interest to political th
regimes, a substantial body of writing has appeared that analyzes the colonial exper
(The Columbia Dictionary of Modern Literary Cultural Criticism, 48-49).
compulsory heterosexuality

A term in radical and lesbian theory for the enforcement of heterosexuality. It includ
sexuality...Adrienne Rich describes compulsory heterosexuality as the main mechanis
heterosexuality were not presented as, or perceived to be, the natural form of sexu
and men and our gender identities would be very different (The Dictionary of Femini
cultural studies

An interdisciplinary field that encompasses a wide range of critical initiatives both in


cultural studies in Britain came... with the founding, by [Richard] Hoggart, of the Bir
1964... It was during th[e] period... [after 1968] that critics affiliated with the Birmin
be best known: studies of neglected aspects of contemporary culture, with the emph
rituals of subcultures... In America, cultural studies... is closely identified with the ini
frequently concern themselves with issues of gender, race, class, and sexual preferen

Cultural Criticism, 64-65).


death of the author

From Roland Barthess essay of the same title, the phrase has come to mean the res
life or known intentions as part of the process of interpretation since this presumes t
attributes to him (or her) a godlike status (Introducing Literary Theories. A Guide an
deconstruction

Deconstruction is not synonymous with 'destruction'... It is in fact much closer to the


etymologically means 'to undo' - a virtual synonym for 'to de-construct'. The deconst
or arbitrary subversion, but by the careful teasing out of warring forces of significatio
deconstructive reading, it is not the text, but the claim to unequivocal domination of
deconstructive reading is a reading which analyses the specificity of a text's critical d
The Penguin Dictionary of Literary Terms and Literary Theory, 297). **Note: the ent
in Literary and Cultural Theory (43-51) provides a rich, and entertaining, exploration
Hillis Miller, Nicholas Royle, and Derrida himself.
defamiliarization
J. A. Cuddon explains "defamiliarization" as follows:

"[...] To 'defamiliarize' is to make fresh, new, strange, different what is familiar and k
the reader's habitual perceptions by drawing attention to the artifice of the text. This
notices is not the picture of reality that is being presented but the peculiarities of the

J. A. Cuddon, The Penguin Dictionary of Literary Terms and Literary Theory, 4th edit
diaspora

Dispersal of various peoples away from their homelands; often associated with the n
cultural studies, postcolonial studies and race theory to consider the displacement of
(Introducing Literary Theories. A Guide and a Glossary, 298).
diffrance

Neologism coined by Jacques Derrida (Introducing Literary Theories. A Guide and a G


(with an a) and difference (with an e) is inaudible. Whatever might be called the m
within writing, which is to say also that it exists only as writing... Differance marks th
differs, which is to say that everything defers. A thing differs because what it is can
is has to do with the fact that it differs from other things. To say that something is is
time that, in so far as it differs, it defers endlessly its own constitution as an autono
subject or the lide. Differance, then, names this work of differing and deferring that

25-27)
discourse:

In contemporary critical theory, discourse is understood to mean an instance of lang


subject and listener/reader-object. It may include in principle any form of utterance
advertising campaign or a lullaby. Michel Foucault argued that discourse colludes wit
distance

Distance or aesthetic distance, also known as detachment, is the effect that the form
identify with the characters, voices, situations or ideas developed in a literary text (p
to reflect on the text they read and define their own opinions by opposition or contra
explored or depicted in the texts, in most cases adopting a critical view of them (thu
the appropriate elements to produce that effect in the reader). Distance relies very m
prompt the reader to be aware that the literary text is a representation of reality, no
J. Cora.
ecriture fminine

The term for womens writing in French feminist theory. It describes how womens w
emotions and to the unnameable, all of which are repressed by the social contract. W
literature reveals the repressed, the secret and unsaid and, in a potency of the imag
Dictionary of Feminist Theory, 75)
feminism

A term used by cultural and essentialist feminists to describe the ideology of female
Monique Wittig, [it] represents a narrow bourgeois demand for egalitarianism. Femin
plurality...the definition incorporates both a doctrine of equal rights for women (the o
ideology of social transformation aiming to create a world for women beyond simple
tend to be shaped by their training, ideology or race. So, for example, Marxist and so
feminism of class with gender and focus on social distinctions between men and wom
integrated analysis which can unlock the multiple systems of oppression (The Diction
gender

Denotes the cultural constitution of femininity or masculinity, the notions concerning


in which these serve ideologically to maintain gendered identities. In much sociologic
biological sex. It represents the socially acceptable, and socially acquired, forms of b
include everything a person does, from the clothes s/he wears, to choices of leisure
voice. The notion of gender argues that a person may have male sex, but may have
his society, and vice versa, a female person may exhibit masculine traits (Critical Key

gender studies

The study of gender as an analytical reference. As a key part of the symbolic order, g
femininity and thereby consolidate forms of gender inequality...For this reason gende
since the 1970s...Elaine Showalter explains her move from gynocriticism to gender s
towards postpatriarchy (The Dictionary of Feminist Theory, 109).
gynocentrism

Literally, woman-centred. In critical practice, it refers to the presumption that the rea
and that the critical act is also aimed towards the woman reader (Introducing Literar
gynocritics

Literally, criticism of women. The term was coined in English by Elaine Showalter to d
criticism would focus its attention on the works of women writers (ibid.).
hybridity

Originally naming something or someone of mixed ancestry or derived from heteroge


postcolonialism, particularly in the work of Homi Bhabha, to signify a reading of iden
identity resistant to the imposition of fixed, unitary identification which is, in turn, a
subject (Introducing Literary Theories. A Guide and a Glossary, 300).
intertextuality

Term originally coined by Julia Kristeva, [it] refers to the ways in which all utterances
other utterances, since words and linguistic/grammatical structures pre-exist the ind
Intertextuality can take place consciously, as when a writer sets out to quote from or
some sense, takes place in all utterance (Introducing Literary Theories, 301).
lesbian/gay studies

Lesbian and gay literary theory... emerged prominently as a distinct field only by the
interest to gays and lesbians... In lesbian/gay criticism, the defining feature is makin
analysis and understanding. Like feminist criticism... it has social and political aims,
for it is informed by resistance to homophobia... and heterosexism... [and to] the id
privilege (Lesbian and Gay Studies Reader xv-xvi. Qtd. in Beginning Theory. An Intr
lisible/scriptible

Used by Roland Barthes in the definition of types of text, the terms are translatable a
the work for the reader, leaving the reader in the role of passive consumer. The write
conventions of readerly or realist textuality, principally the assumptions of linguistic t
(Introducing Literary Theories. A Guide and a Glossary, 302).

Literature:

[] literature is a kind of writing which [] draws attention to itself, flaunts its mate
drivers are on strike does not (Terry Eagleton, Literary Theory. An Introduction. Ox
literature has come to be seen as defined by its linguistic properties, as a work whos
use and quality of language its literariness according to the Russian Formalists.
logocentrism

Term ascribed to... Derrida that refers to the nature of western thought, language an
word, speech and reason, logos possesses connotations in western culture for law
that revolves around a central set of supposedly universal principles or beliefs (Intro
302).
new historicism

The term... was coined by the American critic Stephen Greenblatt... A simple definiti
reading of literary and non-literary texts, usually of the same historical period. That
to privilege the literary text: instead of a literary foreground and a historical backg
which literary and non-literary texts are given equal weight and constantly inform or
as a combined interest in the textuality of history, the historicity of texts... So new h
literature in which there is no privileging of the literary (Beginning Theory. An Introd
orientalism

Term coined by Edward Said naming the ensemble of western, usually though not ex
representation of non-western cultures. Said traces the history of Orientalist discours
the eighteenth century onwards (Introducing Literary Theories. A Guide and a Glossa
other/otherness

Term employed throughout critical discourse in differing ways, otherness names the
different from established norms and social groups; the distinction that one makes b
sexual, ethnic and relational senses of difference (Introducing Literary Theories. A G
paradox

J. A. Cuddon defines paradox as follows (texto destacado en negrita por el Equipo Do

"Originally a paradox was merely a view which contradicted accepted opinion. By rou
acquired the commonly accepted meaning it now has: an apparently self-contrad
inspection, is found to contain a truth reconciling the conflicting opposites.
only to be kind'; Milton's description of God: 'Dark with excessive bright thy skirts ap
sun itself is the dark simulacrum and light is the shadow of God'; and Congreve's ne

'Careless she is with artful care


Affecting to seem unaffected'".

J. A. Cuddon, The Penguin Dictionary of Literary Terms and Literary Theory, 4th edit
phonocentrism

[According to Derrida] phonocentrism... depends on the association of truth with the


truth understood as self-revealing thought or cosmic reason... phonocentrism [is]...
spoken words and written signs, with all the privilege being on the side of the former
post-colonialism

Refers to a historical phase undergone by many of the worlds countries after the dec
century... Following the dismantling of the empires, the people of many Asian, Africa
precolonial culture, assess the cultural, linguistic, legal, and economic effects of colo
identity. Post-colonial literature... centres on the conflicts and contradictions, as well
accompany life as an individual in a postcolonial state (The Columbia Dictionary of M
poststructuralism

Denotes a variety of critical practices and theoretical agendas that arose out of struc
many of its tenets. Since the mid-1970s, poststructuralism in its many forms has ass
orthodox habits of mind, culture, and language... [L]iterary and aesthetic criticism h
origin, order based upon binary opposition, and a conception of the individual as a un
the competition of discourses, on the ruptures in history, on the free play of meaning
Dictionary of Modern Literary Cultural Criticism, 237).
power

In the work of Michel Foucault, power constitutes one of the three axes constitutive o
truth. For Foucault, power implies knowledge, and vice versa. However, power is cau
knowledge is, concomitantly, constitutive of power: knowledge gives one power, but
constitute bodies of knowledge, discourses and so on as valid or invalid, truthful or u
knowable and controllable. Yet, the nature of power, as Foucault suggests in the first
proscriptive, concerned more with imposing limits on its subjects (Introducing Litera
queer theory
Created by a political alliance of gay men and lesbians in American and British AIDS
critical distance from the earlier and marginalised gay and lesbian... Contemporary
do not adequately address issues of race (The Dictionary of Feminist Theory, 229).
reader:

For poststructuralism, the reader and the act of reading are necessary for a text to c
the author and assigns a writerly role to the reader. A text which is writerly or scri
produce meaning; a text which is readerly or lisible by contrast is a text in which th
or writerly. Many poststructuralists argue however that all texts are in theory writer
willingness and commitment to engage with them.
semiotic/symbolic

In the plural, semiotics refers to the science of signs systematic codes of represen
the Semiotic to refer to a mode in language. Language, she says, consists of the Sy
transparency, paraphrasability, conformity and power. The Semiotic is the pre-linguis
the babbling incoherence of the child, the language of poetry and the language of ps
Glossary, 307-308).
sexuality

The process which creates, organises, expresses and directs desire... Feminist theory
sexuality of womens bodies is a major activity of patriarchy. In this sense feminism
reflect political and cultural institutions that affect the condition of individual life and
feminist theory about the nature of female sexuality. Some feminists claim that fema
relationships, while others argue that this romanticisation of a pure form divorces s
Feminist Theory, 262).
sign:

Swiss linguist Ferdinand de Saussure noted that every sign (a basic unit of communi
components: the signifier (the materially identifiable element such as a sound or visi
of the sign). Saussure argued that the relationship between signifier and signified is
convention: English speakers agree that the word/signifier horse refers to a certain
tail and a mane and which may be ridden by humans or used as a beast of burden. H
particular referent/signified is caballo. The division of the sign, as well as its arbitrary
theory of language and literature.
subject/subjectivity

The concept of selfhood that is developed in and articulated through the acquisition o
subjectivity is the process of attaining and expressing selfhood in and through langua
subjectified by cultural, epistemological, ideological and other social discourses and i
and a Glossary, 308-309).
supplementarity

Quasi-concept which, as Jacques Derrida points out, means both an addition and a r
understanding of writing as a supplement to speech. The idea of supplementarity pu
sign in making possible signification, indicating the work of difference within the self-

addition or complement which completes. In so doing, the supplement is meant to co


producing the meaning of the original, it disrupts the very idea of the original as sel
and a Glossary, 309).
synaesthesia
The reference to a sense in terms of another, e.g. a warm colour.
text:

Modern critics emphasize the fact that works of literature are made of words and lan
term text, meaning the actual wording of a work of literature. Poststructuralism teac
text, and can be read as something made up of signs, sign clusters and determined
violent hierarchies:
see binary opposition.