Thursday, August 6, 2020

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1.The Master of Revels

The man to impress and fear...

Anyone involved in the production of plays in Elizabethan England, from the playwright to the theatre owners, knew that the Master of Revels was the man to impress and fear, for he auditioned acting troupes, selected the plays they would perform, and controlled the scenery and costumes to be used in each production.

During the reign of James I, the Master of Revels reached the apex of his power and had complete authority over both the production and the publication of plays.

The Master of Revels, deputy to the Lord Chamberlain, headed the Revels Office, the department of the royal household responsible for the coordination of theatrical entertainment at court. To perform at court was the ultimate goal of every Elizabethan theatre company and, even if certain renegade companies did not desire to gain a royal audience, they had little choice but to pretend to shape their every action to this end. "Practising to perform at court for the monarch's entertainment was the only officially accepted excuse the playing companies could give for playing regularly in London" (Gurr, 19). And, without the London audiences, it was unlikely that a troupe would survive.

When the Master of Revels organized an upcoming season of performances he would summon the acting troupes so that they could audition before him and his three subordinate officers. The Master would then choose which companies would perform and which plays they were allowed to produce. If the Master saw fit, he would delete lines or passages and even request that entire scenes be inserted into the original material.

Once the Master selected the plays to be produced before the royal court, he arranged for all the required costumes and scenery to be created by his own seamstresses and workmen. Much time and money was spent on the elaborate wardrobes, and only the finest fabrics were used. 

2.Sir Edmund Tilney or Tylney (1536–1610) was a courtier best known now as Master of the Revels to Queen Elizabeth and King James. He was responsible for the censorship of drama in England. He was also instrumental in the development of English drama of the Elizabethan period. Tilney made the office of Master of the Revels into an institution.

3.Euphues: The Anatomy of Wit /ˈjfjz/, a didactic romance written by John Lyly, was entered in the Stationers' Register 2 December 1578 and published that same year. It was followed by Euphues and his England, registered on 25 July 1579, but not published until Spring of 1580. The name Euphues is derived from Greek meaning "graceful, witty." Lyly adopted the name from Roger Ascham's The Scholemaster, which describes Euphues as a type of student who is "apte by goodnes of witte, and appliable by readines of will, to learning, hauving all other qualities of the mind and partes of the bodie, that must an other day serue learning, not trobled, mangled, and halfed, but sounde, whole, full & hable to do their office" (194). Lyly's mannered style is characterized by parallel arrangements and periphrases.

4.Campaspe is an Elizabethan era stage play, a comedy by John Lyly. Widely considered Lyly's earliest drama, Campaspe was an influence and a precedent for much that followed in English Renaissance drama.

Sources

Lyly depended on the Natural History of Pliny the Elder for the tale of Alexander the Great and Campaspe. He also drew upon the work of Diogenes Laërtius and upon Thomas North's 1580 translation of the Parallel Lives of Plutarch for information of the philosophers of ancient Greece — he includes not only Diogenes but also PlatoAristotleCleanthesCratesChrysippus, Crysus, and Anaxarchus. (The play must therefore have been written between 1580 and 1584.)

Synopsis

Apelles Painting Campaspe in the Presence of Alexander the GreatPalais des Beaux-Arts de Lille, France

While in Athens, Alexander falls in love with the beautiful Theban captive, Campaspe. He grants the young woman her freedom, and has her portrait painted by the artist Apelles. Apelles quickly falls in love with her too; when the portrait is finished, he deliberately mars it to have more time with his sitter. Campaspe in turn falls in love with Apelles. When Apelles eventually presents the completed portrait to Alexander, the painter's behaviour reveals that he is in love with Campaspe. Alexander magnanimously resigns his interest in Campaspe so that the true love between her and Apelles can flower; he turns his attention to the invasion of Persia and further conquests.

Alexander also spends his time in Athens conversing and consorting with the philosophers of the era – most notably with Diogenes, whose famous tub is prominently featured onstage. Diogenes is little impressed with the conqueror. Aristotle and Plato share a conversation, and other philosophers appear as well. The play also features the witty pages that are a hallmark of Lyly's drama.

The play's prose style is heavily "euphuistic," sharing significant commonalities with Lyly's famous novel Euphues (1578). Notably, Apelles is a crucial figure in both works. This euphuistic style helps to support the view that Campaspe was Lyly's first venture at writing for the stage.

Influence

Lyly provides no moral or ethical lesson in his Campaspe — thereby breaking away from the morality play tradition of earlier drama. And unlike most of his subsequent plays, Campaspe eschews allegory as well. Instead, Campaspe delivers a romantic historical tale purely for its entertainment value. His departure from the Medieval mindset provided a model for later (and better) writers to follow. The play has been called "the first romantic drama" of its era.


5.Sapho and Phao is an Elizabethan era stage play, a comedy written by John Lyly. One of Lyly's earliest dramas, it was likely the first that the playwright devoted to the allegorical idealisation of Queen Elizabeth I that became the predominating feature of Lyly's dramatic canon.

An Important Article on Structuralism

4 Important Variants of Structuralism
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Generally, functional sociologists talk about structure-functional analysis. Merton’s structure-functional analysis is much popular among sociology students. Here, the meaning of social structure is not specific. It generally means social class, caste, bureaucracies, etc. But, when structuralists use structuralism, they have a technical and specific meaning in mind.

Normally, structuralism has acquired four variants:

(1) Linguistics structuralism,

(2) Anthropological structuralism,

(3) Structural Marxism, and

(4) Post-structuralism.

Basic to the above four variants of structuralism is the linguistics structuralism. Even the post-structuralism carries the basic elements of linguistics structuralism.

1. Linguistics Structuralism:

Ferdinand de Saussure was a Swiss linguist who is generally considered to have been the founder of modern structural linguistics and therefore the grandfather of structuralism. It is the irony of fate that Saussure’s linguistics structuralism began to get some popularity three years after his death. Some of his former students published a book based upon notes they had taken during the course of his lectures. The text that has come down to us was Course in General Linguistics (1966).

The traditional meaning of language consists of symbols, which name the things and happenings that human beings wish to talk about. For instance, the Rajput women committed suicide by throwing themselves to open fire in order to save their honour and chastity from enemies.

This is a happening and the Hindi word, which symbolized it, is called johar. The words thus are symbols to convey some meaning. In other words, the symbols give us the meaning of reality. The traditional meaning of words representing reality are not acceptable to Saussure. He argues that words give meaning with reference to other words and never the reality. It is how the linguistics structuralism began.

Before Saussure, linguistics had been concerned with how a language develops over time. For instance, Hindi in our country developed from regional languages or dialects such as Brij, Bhojpuri, Dingal and Sanskrit. Hindi thus is the refined form of several local languages. This kind of historical development of a language was not acceptable to Saussure.

He argued, quite like Durkheim, that we do not know how something works by tracing its history. Just as we cannot understand a society only by looking at the relationships between the different parts, so we need to look at the relationships between the different parts of language.

Durkheim argued that the mechanical society can be properly understood with reference to the organic society; the differences of social relationships in both the societies are striking. And, this helps us better to comprehend these societies. Saussure likewise says that to understand the meaning of male properly, we shall have to seek its relationship with the female.

Relationships between the parts of language help us to know the meaning. Words have no association with reality. Words have association with words. It is in this context that Saussure labels historical approach to the understanding of linguistics as ‘historicist’ only. The structuralists consider historicism and empiricism as the most dirtiest parts of social science vocabulary.

The components of language: Speech:

In simple words, language is a medium through which people communicate their ideas, views, feelings, needs, etc. The different elements of a language contribute to communication through their relationships to each other. We cannot do that by looking at individual acts of speech, we need to look at the language as a whole. And, therefore, there is difference between speech and language. The individual speech act what I say when I open my mouth, is always to some extent unique, and it cannot, therefore, be the object of a science.

Language, on the other hand, is constant and possessed by everybody who speaks it, it is the raw material out of which we form our senses. Each language is made up out of a finite number of sounds and rules about combining sounds, rather like the rules of grammar we learn at school.

Speech refers to the apparently infinite numbers of sentences we may produce using these sounds and rules. Games provide helpful examples. The language of chess, for instance, consists of the board and the pieces and the rules of the game, and these are the same for every game; the speech act is the individual game, which is different from the other individual games.

Thus, structure, which is underlying the speech, has its elements. Signs constitute the elements. Putting on glass bangles and wearing a bindi or mangalsutra around the neck is a sign which indicates that the Hindu woman is married. Again, the dark clouds are a sign of rain; a red light by the side of the road is a sign that traffic must stop.

C.P. Peirce, the American structuralist, has distinguished three types of sign:

(1) The icon sign:

Relationship is based on similarity. All the followers of Hinduism worship idols.

(2) The index sign:

It is the relationship which shows causation. Clouds and rain: it is causal relationship.

(3) The symbol sign:

It is a relationship based on social convention or agreement. This sign is also called arbitrary sign. For instance, the married woman’s putting on mangal sutra is arbitrary. It means the relationship is not necessary connection; she might be married but would not put on mangal sutra or the colour red could be blue, orange or purple to stop the traffic; it just so happens that everyone agrees that red means stop or danger, and this is an external reality imposed on individual members of society. If I were to decide that, for me red means go and green means stop. I would not remain a member of society for long.

Signs, the basic units of language, are arbitrary:

Saussure argues that there is nothing intrinsic in the word ‘dog’ that means that it has to refer to some hairy four-legged creature; we might as well call such animals ‘professors’ but we don’t. The sign has two aspects: a signifier and a signified; the relation between them is often likened to the one between two sides of a sheet of paper.

The signifier is the ‘material’ element – the physical sound of ‘dog’ or the marks on a sheet of paper. This element is meaningless without the signified which is the concept the sound refers to. Both are necessary to each other: the concept cannot be articulated without the sound.

It is important to remember that the signified is the concept, not the object, we tend to assume that words are attached to objects like labels, but structural linguistics breaks this connection, insisting on the difference between the concept and the object. Take for instance, the concept of a circle is not round; the concept of a dog does not bark.

This is a first step along the road to the metaphysical assumption that the objects we see in the world are created by our language or ideas. It is a justified step, in that it is simply true that words do not grow out of things naturally and are different from the things they denote. Saussure’s thrust of argument is that language has nothing to do with the objects, which exist in reality. Objects, therefore, are created by language, or, they are the products of ideas.

Syntagm and paradigm:

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A syntagm is a linguistic construction. To say that the sign and what it points to is arbitrary, is only half the story. It is not a matter of agreeing with the meaning of each sign in a language. For instance, we agree that red colour is a sign of danger but there is yet another dimensions to it.

Red is part of the whole structure of colours which includes green, yellow, blue, etc. Red means danger because green means safety. The meaning of sign depends upon its relationship to other signs. The meaning of night depends upon day. Similarly, we know what ‘three’ means only because of its relationship to one, two, four, etc.

If we regard a simple sound as a sign, in English the words dog and god are made up of the same signs, but they have different meanings because the sounds have different relationships to each other. Althusser, the Marxist sociologist, argues that the meaning of the word ‘alienation’ in Marx’s later work is different from its meaning in his earlier work, because it is related to different concept.

Saussure analyzes linguistics in an unconventional way and draws the conclusion that the meaning of a word or sign depends on its relationship to others and that it stands for a concept rather than an object, but it does not follow that it has no relation to an external object or that it creates that object. Thus, it is the objective of structuralism to seek the underlying structure of a language – the basic elements and the rules which govern their relationships: the logic underlying a language.

The linguistic model extended beyond language to all sign systems:

Semiotics has been labelled as the science of signs. In fact, semiotics is broader than structural linguistics. It includes not only language but also other signs and symbol systems such as gestures, facial expressions, body language and literary texts. In other words, it is inclusive of all forms of communications.

Ronald Barthes is often called as the true founder of semiotics. He extended it to all areas of social life – not only language but also social behaviours as representations or signs. Not just language, but wrestling matches are also signifying practices, as are TV shows, fashions, cooking, and just about everything else in everyday life. Thus, the linguistics ‘turn’ came to encompass all social phenomena which, in turn, came to be interpreted as sign.

Semiotics is based on the assumption that all human products are at some point a means of communication and can thus be analyzed like language, with a similar distinction between language and speech. Thus, Levi-Strauss claims to reveal the basic unit or language of kinship systems in which the different kinship systems of each tribe are equivalent to speech acts. Similarly, Louis Althusser identifies an underlying social structure or ‘language’ of capitalism, in which the individual capitalist societies are speech acts.

To conclude the linguistics structuralism, we would observe that it is a method of identifying the underlying structures or logic of general meanings. It is sometimes also assumed that this structure of logic also matches the ‘structures’ of the world. It is based on the ground that as the mind is part of the world, the ideas it produced will have the same structure as the world.

Some major key features of structuralism are as under:

(1) Structuralism attempts to analyze world as a production of ideas.

(2) It assumes that the world has a logical pattern.

(3) There is death of the subject, that is, the individual in structural analyses is dead. Individual is created by societies; societies are not created by him.

(4) Structuralism is against historicism and empiricism.

(5) Saussure is the father of structuralism.

(6) Language and speech are different: language is social, it develops overtimes, speech is individual.

(7) Language consists of speech, sign and semiotics.

(8) The meaning of a linguistic sign depends upon its relationship to other signs.

(9) Signs are the basic units of language. They have two aspects: signifier and signified, signifier is the ‘material’ aspect and signified is the conceptual aspect.

(10) Barthes and Levi-Strauss have extended linguistics to other areas of semiotics.

(11) All in all, structuralism is a method of identifying the underlying structure or logic of general meanings.

(12) Structuralism claims to have attained the status of a totalizing theory. It is quite like the grand theory of Parsons. At a later stage, we shall see that post-structuralism abandons all these universalistic claims.

2. Anthropological Structuralism:

Structuralism is not a distinct discipline of social sciences. It is at its best an approach or a method and a theory. It can be employed as a perspective in analyzing a text or an object of reality. When structural perspective is used to understand and analyze the anthropological issues, it is called anthropological structuralism.

Claude Levi-Strauss is said to be the first French anthropologist who used structuralism to analyze kinship system and myths of primitive people. He argued that exchange of spouses can be analyzed in the same way as the exchange of words. Both are social exchanges that he studied through the use of social anthropology.

Besides Levi-Strauss, structuralism as a perspective was employed by Louis Althusser, a Marxist and Jacques Lacan, a psychoanalyst. Analyzing the works of anthropological structuralists Edith Kurzweie (1980) has asserted that ultimately all social reality is the interplay of unconscious mental structures.

The basic thrust of anthropologists in applying structuralism is that:

(1) The underlying structure comparatively remains constant, and

(2) There are varying relationships between the underlying elements.

These relationships produce different languages, systems of ideas and types of society. This theoretical abstraction is applied to the study of primitive kinship system and myths by Levi-Strauss. He very strongly argues that in primitive society, individual is totally subordinated to the relationships of elements of underlying structures.

Structuralism of Levi-Strauss:

The basic principles of structuralism are most visible in the writings of Levi-Strauss. He tries to find out the hidden unconscious laws or structures beneath surface manifestations. Malinowski, another anthropologist, is known for the study of primitive people.

He is said to be an authority on Trobriand islanders. But, his study is characterized by holism. He has made studies on specific societies. But, Strauss takes a different approach. He makes an approach to find out universals and common structures of the mind.

His focus was on the study of myths found among the tribal people. His four-volume book, Mythologies (1964-71) carries classification systems and myths. These classification systems are reduced to binary oppositions by Levi-Strauss. He says that the primitive people are rich in their imagination.

Levi-Strauss has taken up another anthropological issue for his study. His analysis of Totemism (1962) and the Savage Mind (1962) is yet another example of structural study. In Totemism he has tried to reveal the hidden logic of this practice. Without this logic, totemism would have gone as a blind belief of the primitives. Similarly, in the Savage Mind, Levi-Strauss has found that the primitive people had a science of the concrete.

The Elementary Structures of Kinship (1949) is considered to be a classical work of Levi-Strauss. The underlying principle of exchange of spouses in marriage is that when one cannot marry with his sister or brother, the only alternative left is to have spouse by exchange. Levi-Strauss argued that as we study language by the exchange of words, so we study the exchange of spouses.

George Ritzer (1997) has argued that Levi-Strauss found similarities between linguistic systems and kinship systems:

First, terms used to describe kinship, like phonemes in language, are basic units of analysis to the structural anthropologist.

Second, neither the kinship terms nor the phonemes have meaning in themselves.

Instead, both acquire meaning only when they are integral parts of a larger system. Levi-Strauss even used a system of binary opposition’s m his anthropological (for example, the raw and cooked food) analysis.

Certainly, Levi-Strauss gave a linguistic turn to social anthropology. But, at a later stage of his writings, he turned his research direction to a number of perspectives. Most importantly, he argued that “both phonemic systems and kinship systems are the products of the structures of mind. Instead, they are the products of the unconscious, logical structure of the mind. These systems as well as the logical structure of the mind from which they are derived, operate on the basis of general laws”.

The direction of anthropological structuralism of Levi-Strauss has thus two major turns. On the one hand, he says that it is the linguistic structure, which helps us enough to analyze the anthropological issues.

On the other hand, in his later orientation, he explains anthropological issues from the perspective of conscious and unconscious working of mind. The underlying structure is thus hidden in the mind of the individual. And this is, according to him, the genuine and fundamental structure.

C.R. Badcock has critically examined the anthropology of Levi-Strauss in his book, Levi-Strauss: Structuralism and Sociological Theory (1975). Badcock explains the reasons, which led Levi-Strauss to explain structuralism from the perspective of structure of mind.

For this analysis he employs the concepts of diachrony and synchrony. He argues that diachrony refers to changes of which we are immediately aware. In fact, diachrony is a historical development of language. This development, whenever takes place, we know it, we are aware of it.

Thus, language can be seen to change over a shorter or longer period. New words and phrases enter general usage and in this process there are also words and phrases which also disappear. The entry and exit of words is a shorter or longer process and it goes on continuously.

However, in this process, the structure remains constant. It is because the changes are produced by new combinations already provided for or contained within the underlying rules, the constancy occurs at the synchronic level.

Levi-Strauss argues that in the case of societies, it is possible to argue that the underlying structure, for example, capitalism remains the same and determines the history of apparent social change. And, this is the change we actually experience. A change in the type of society itself would involve a much more dramatic shift in the underlying structure. This is perhaps the radical form of structuralism. It is, however, not much in fashion today.

3. Structural Marxism:

Louis Althusser, Nicos Poulantzas and Maurice Godlier are the main contributors to structural Marxism. They try to establish that it was not Saussure who founded linguistics structuralism. In fact, it was Karl Marx who used structuralism as the method or approach to study social reality.

Godlier made this point very clear when he wrote:

When Marx assumes that structure is not to be confused with visible relations and explains their hidden logic, he inaugurates the modern structuralist tradition. Agreed that all scholars of structuralism, whether linguistic, anthropological or Marxian, talk about hidden or underlying structure, their conceptualization of structure is different. However, there are some structural Marxists who share with general structuralists an interest in the study of structure as a prerequisite to the study of history.

As Godlier said:

The study of the internal functioning of a structure must precede and illuminate the study of its genesis and evolution…. The inner logic of these systems must be analysed before their origin is analyzed.

Yet another view shared by structuralists and structural Marxists is that “structuralism should be concerned with the structures or systems that are formed out of the interplay of social relations. Both schools see structures that they consider real.

For Levi-Strauss the focus is on the structure of the mind, whereas for structural Marxists it is on the underlying structure of society”. Ritzer’s analysis is that whatever may be the variant of structuralism, empiricism remains a first-rate rejection.

He (1997) says:

What both structuralists and Marxists reject are the empiricist definitions of what constitutes a social structure?

Godlier’s rejection of empiricism runs as below:

For Marx as for Levi-Strauss a structure is not a reality that is directly visible, and so directly observable, but a level of reality that exists beyond the visible relations between men and the functioning of which constitutes the underlying logic of the system, the subjacent order by which the apparent order is to be explained.

There are, as we have seen above, some similarities in general structuralism and Marxian structuralism, the fact remains that the structuralist Marxists do not share with linguistic structuralism which Saussure proposed.

The structural Marxism all through its analysis has stressed on social and economic structures. It has adhered to the Marxian theory of production relations and production forces. It is because of this orientation that structural Marxism has established its distinct identity.

Althusser’s Marxist structuralism:

Louis Althusser was born in Algeria who later moved to France. He was a Marxist philosopher and a social theorist. Most of his Marxist structuralism was published in the 1960s, especially in two books, namely, For Marx (1965), and with Etinne Balibar, Reading Capital (1968).

A key aspect of Althusser’s analysis was separating Marx’s writing into four periods:

(1) 1840-1844, the early works;

(2) 1845, the works of the Break;

(3) 1846-1857, the transitional works, and

(4), 1857-1883, the mature works.

In doing so Althusser was able to downplay the importance of Marx’s early humanistic concern. Before we write anything about Althusser’s structural Marxism, we must say that Althusser always denied that he had been influenced by structuralism. For him, structuralism is nothing more than an ideology. Despite his denial, he is established as a Marxian structuralist. He defines society as a “structured whole, consisting of complex mental and physical conditions”. This complexity includes the contradictions of which Marx spoke.

Althusser (1969) says:

The contradictions constitute the conditions of existence. As an example, take the complex structured whole that is society. In it, the relations of production are not the pure phenomenon of the forces of production; they are also their condition of existence. The superstructure is not the pure phenomenon of the structure, it is also its condition of existence.

What makes Althusser a structuralist Marxist is his rediscovery of Marx. He has examined Marx from a new scientific perspective. His Marxian perspective of structuralism consists of two rejections:

(1) Humanism, and

(2) Historicism.

To begin with, Althusser says what Marxism is not. On this negative basis he starts the process of unearthing or rediscovering what Marxism is: “we begin with what Marxism is now understood not to be. For Althusser, of course, the important ‘nots’ are ‘humanism’ and ‘historicism’. These two ‘isms’ are closely linked to each other, but it is convenient to consider them separately. Sometimes, the word ‘historicism’ is used to describe all approaches which emphasize the significance of historical change. However, this is not what Althusser objects to.”

For him:

Historicism refers to those accounts of historical change, which represent it as a linear series of stages or phases, having a direction and with an inherent end-pointer purpose.

Althusser’s criticism of Marxist humanism:

Althusser is critical of Marx’s humanism. Actually, he very explicitly rejects humanism. In this sense, he becomes anti-humanist. Marx argues that humanism is a philosophical understanding of history. It is the human beings who themselves bring about their own development. He considers history as human self-development. Althusser is clearly against this kind of Marxian humanism.

And, therefore, what is alternative to Marxian humanism given by Althusser?

Individual has his own choices. Sometimes, it is also called ‘voluntarism’. It is found in its extreme form in Sartre’s existentialism. Economists often talk about individual’s rational choice. The structuralists do not agree with Sartre and individual’s freedom of choices.

They very strongly advocate that in structuralism there is death of subject or individual. It is the dominance of structure which subordinates the individual. Althusser, however, does not accept structuralists’ point of view. He argues that the surface appearance of things may be misleading as to the real structural causes which underlie them and produce them.

Althusser suggests that the individual has certain mental processes which need to be considered while asserting the choices of a particular person. Marx did not do that. He depended wholly on the progressive direction of history. He overlooked the status of individual in his humanism.

Althusser’s rejection of determinism and promotion of superstructure:

Althusser, in his book, Reading Capital (1968) has analyzed Mane’s economic determinism. Marx’s thesis is that the economic structure or mode of production determines the composition and history of society.

The different types of society that have existed in history can be classified in terms of the different modes of production. This is what we may call the ‘orthodox’ understanding of Marx’s economic thought. It is here that Althusser parts company with Marx and other conservative Marxists.

Althusser rejects economic determinism. He argues that a society is composed of a number of structures. Economic structure is one of them. Other structures include ideological, political, religious and theoretical or scientific structures.

These structures consist of practices. And, the practices have their own reality, their own contradictions. The structures of a society have causal relationship. Thus, the society is not influenced by economic structure only. It is influenced by all the structures which compose it.

Althusser (1968) says:

The real problem was that Marx had not developed an adequate theory of the superstructures to compare with his economic theory. One of the most urgent jobs to be done by contemporary Marxists was to correct this weakness in Marxism by developing theories of ideology and politics.

While rejecting Marx’s economic determinism, Althusser stresses on the importance of superstructure. He introduces the concept of causality and says that in each society there are a number of structures – political, economic, ideological, religious, literary, and so on. These structures influence one another. And, in the process of influencing, some have more influence than others. This is causal relationship between structures.

Althusser has developed a theory of superstructure. According to him, there are two types of superstructure: (1) Repressive State Apparatus (RSA), and (2) Ideological State Apparatus (ISA). The RSA includes police, courts of law and army which exercise state control over the citizens. Its major function is to maintain the social order mainly by the use of coercion.

The use of police to break strikes or contain demonstration is the example of RSA. By the concept of ISA, Althusser argues that the state secures the active consent of the majority to the existing power relations. These two major types of superstructure have causal relationship with economic and other structures of the society.

4. Post-structuralism:

The origin of post-structuralism goes back to Ferdinand Saussure’s structuralism. Structuralism has given the idea that a language creates its own objects. It says that the meaning of a word is never present in the word itself.

It is always somewhere else. On the simplest level, what structuralism says IS that the meaning of a word depends upon its relationship to other words – meaning lies between words rather than in the relationship between word and object.

We have discussed above three types of structuralism — linguistic, anthropological and Marxian. Post-structuralism has also developed from the soil of France. It seeks to distance itself from existentialism, empiricism, historicism, phenomenology, Marxism and Freudian theory. It also keeps itself away from Barthes, Levi-Strauss, Althusser, and so on.

It is difficult to pinpoint the period when structuralism ended and post-structuralism began. However, Lamert (1990) traces the beginning of post-structuralism to a 1966 speech given by Jacques Derrida in which he proclaimed the dawning of a new post-structuralism from much of the philosophical background of postmodern theory.

Indeed, nowadays, post-structuralism is often seen as postmodern philosophy. One of the dangers of this is that it can give the impression that post-structuralism is a single school of thought or academic discipline. In fact, the term is regularly used to unite the work or a fairly diverse group of thinkers, few of whomever described themselves as poststructuralists.

Also, although the word ‘post-structuralism’ implies that it simply took over from structuralism at some point in history, it is truer to say that, especially in the 1960s and 1970s, the two ran alongside each other and often crossed tracks. At a later stage of our discussion, we shall have opportunity to differentiate between structuralism and post-structuralism, and post-modernity.

Meaning of post-structuralism:

Oxford Dictionary of Sociology:

Post-structuralism’s prime achievement has been to rediscover and extend the radical analytical possibilities inherent in Saussure’s theory of language as a significatory rather than a representational phenomenon.

Glenn Ward (1997):

Although it has had most impact in the field of literary theory and criticism, structuralism is best thought of as an approach or method rather than as a clearly defined discipline…. At the most general level, structuralism can be seen as bringing to the fore a number of questions about meaning, representation and authorship, and as exploring the relationships between language and knowledge.

In this respect, it can be seen as a part of a widespread pre-occupation with language which has affected a great deal of thought (including what we now call postmodernism) throughout the 20th century.

George Ritzer (1997):

Post-structuralism has come as a reaction to structuralism. We can define post-structuralism as a rebel against structuralism. We can define post-structuralism as a school of thought that builds upon, but seeks distance itself from the structuralism associated with thinkers like Ferdinand Saussure, Ronald Barthes, Claude Levi-Strauss, Louis Althusser, and so on.

The main theme of structuralism is to find out as from where the meaning comes. Does it come from the text itself? Does it come from the context in which the text is consumed? Is the reader free to create his own meaning?

To what degree can the author of a text control how it is interpreted? Does the production of meaning arise from the interaction of-these factors? These are some of the questions which structuralists often ask.

The following major ideas make the definition and meaning of post-structuralism clear and precise:

(1) Language cannot point outside of itself.

(2) Language produces meaning.

(3) Language does not express individuality.

4 Important Variants of Structuralism

Generally, functional sociologists talk about structure-functional analysis. Merton’s structure-functional analysis is much popular among sociology students. Here, the meaning of social structure is not specific. It generally means social class, caste, bureaucracies, etc. But, when structuralists use structuralism, they have a technical and specific meaning in mind.

Normally, structuralism has acquired four variants:

(1) Linguistics structuralism,

(2) Anthropological structuralism,

(3) Structural Marxism, and

(4) Post-structuralism.

Basic to the above four variants of structuralism is the linguistics structuralism. Even the post-structuralism carries the basic elements of linguistics structuralism.

1. Linguistics Structuralism:

Ferdinand de Saussure was a Swiss linguist who is generally considered to have been the founder of modern structural linguistics and therefore the grandfather of structuralism. It is the irony of fate that Saussure’s linguistics structuralism began to get some popularity three years after his death. Some of his former students published a book based upon notes they had taken during the course of his lectures. The text that has come down to us was Course in General Linguistics (1966).

The traditional meaning of language consists of symbols, which name the things and happenings that human beings wish to talk about. For instance, the Rajput women committed suicide by throwing themselves to open fire in order to save their honour and chastity from enemies.

This is a happening and the Hindi word, which symbolized it, is called johar. The words thus are symbols to convey some meaning. In other words, the symbols give us the meaning of reality. The traditional meaning of words representing reality are not acceptable to Saussure. He argues that words give meaning with reference to other words and never the reality. It is how the linguistics structuralism began.

Before Saussure, linguistics had been concerned with how a language develops over time. For instance, Hindi in our country developed from regional languages or dialects such as Brij, Bhojpuri, Dingal and Sanskrit. Hindi thus is the refined form of several local languages. This kind of historical development of a language was not acceptable to Saussure.

He argued, quite like Durkheim, that we do not know how something works by tracing its history. Just as we cannot understand a society only by looking at the relationships between the different parts, so we need to look at the relationships between the different parts of language.

Durkheim argued that the mechanical society can be properly understood with reference to the organic society; the differences of social relationships in both the societies are striking. And, this helps us better to comprehend these societies. Saussure likewise says that to understand the meaning of male properly, we shall have to seek its relationship with the female.

Relationships between the parts of language help us to know the meaning. Words have no association with reality. Words have association with words. It is in this context that Saussure labels historical approach to the understanding of linguistics as ‘historicist’ only. The structuralists consider historicism and empiricism as the most dirtiest parts of social science vocabulary.

The components of language: Speech:

In simple words, language is a medium through which people communicate their ideas, views, feelings, needs, etc. The different elements of a language contribute to communication through their relationships to each other. We cannot do that by looking at individual acts of speech, we need to look at the language as a whole. And, therefore, there is difference between speech and language. The individual speech act what I say when I open my mouth, is always to some extent unique, and it cannot, therefore, be the object of a science.

Language, on the other hand, is constant and possessed by everybody who speaks it, it is the raw material out of which we form our senses. Each language is made up out of a finite number of sounds and rules about combining sounds, rather like the rules of grammar we learn at school.

Speech refers to the apparently infinite numbers of sentences we may produce using these sounds and rules. Games provide helpful examples. The language of chess, for instance, consists of the board and the pieces and the rules of the game, and these are the same for every game; the speech act is the individual game, which is different from the other individual games.

Thus, structure, which is underlying the speech, has its elements. Signs constitute the elements. Putting on glass bangles and wearing a bindi or mangalsutra around the neck is a sign which indicates that the Hindu woman is married. Again, the dark clouds are a sign of rain; a red light by the side of the road is a sign that traffic must stop.

C.P. Peirce, the American structuralist, has distinguished three types of sign:

(1) The icon sign:

Relationship is based on similarity. All the followers of Hinduism worship idols.

(2) The index sign:

It is the relationship which shows causation. Clouds and rain: it is causal relationship.

(3) The symbol sign:

It is a relationship based on social convention or agreement. This sign is also called arbitrary sign. For instance, the married woman’s putting on mangal sutra is arbitrary. It means the relationship is not necessary connection; she might be married but would not put on mangal sutra or the colour red could be blue, orange or purple to stop the traffic; it just so happens that everyone agrees that red means stop or danger, and this is an external reality imposed on individual members of society. If I were to decide that, for me red means go and green means stop. I would not remain a member of society for long.

Signs, the basic units of language, are arbitrary:

Saussure argues that there is nothing intrinsic in the word ‘dog’ that means that it has to refer to some hairy four-legged creature; we might as well call such animals ‘professors’ but we don’t. The sign has two aspects: a signifier and a signified; the relation between them is often likened to the one between two sides of a sheet of paper.

The signifier is the ‘material’ element – the physical sound of ‘dog’ or the marks on a sheet of paper. This element is meaningless without the signified which is the concept the sound refers to. Both are necessary to each other: the concept cannot be articulated without the sound.

It is important to remember that the signified is the concept, not the object, we tend to assume that words are attached to objects like labels, but structural linguistics breaks this connection, insisting on the difference between the concept and the object. Take for instance, the concept of a circle is not round; the concept of a dog does not bark.

This is a first step along the road to the metaphysical assumption that the objects we see in the world are created by our language or ideas. It is a justified step, in that it is simply true that words do not grow out of things naturally and are different from the things they denote. Saussure’s thrust of argument is that language has nothing to do with the objects, which exist in reality. Objects, therefore, are created by language, or, they are the products of ideas.

Syntagm and paradigm:

ADVERTISEMENTS:

A syntagm is a linguistic construction. To say that the sign and what it points to is arbitrary, is only half the story. It is not a matter of agreeing with the meaning of each sign in a language. For instance, we agree that red colour is a sign of danger but there is yet another dimensions to it.

Red is part of the whole structure of colours which includes green, yellow, blue, etc. Red means danger because green means safety. The meaning of sign depends upon its relationship to other signs. The meaning of night depends upon day. Similarly, we know what ‘three’ means only because of its relationship to one, two, four, etc.

If we regard a simple sound as a sign, in English the words dog and god are made up of the same signs, but they have different meanings because the sounds have different relationships to each other. Althusser, the Marxist sociologist, argues that the meaning of the word ‘alienation’ in Marx’s later work is different from its meaning in his earlier work, because it is related to different concept.

Saussure analyzes linguistics in an unconventional way and draws the conclusion that the meaning of a word or sign depends on its relationship to others and that it stands for a concept rather than an object, but it does not follow that it has no relation to an external object or that it creates that object. Thus, it is the objective of structuralism to seek the underlying structure of a language – the basic elements and the rules which govern their relationships: the logic underlying a language.

The linguistic model extended beyond language to all sign systems:

Semiotics has been labelled as the science of signs. In fact, semiotics is broader than structural linguistics. It includes not only language but also other signs and symbol systems such as gestures, facial expressions, body language and literary texts. In other words, it is inclusive of all forms of communications.

Ronald Barthes is often called as the true founder of semiotics. He extended it to all areas of social life – not only language but also social behaviours as representations or signs. Not just language, but wrestling matches are also signifying practices, as are TV shows, fashions, cooking, and just about everything else in everyday life. Thus, the linguistics ‘turn’ came to encompass all social phenomena which, in turn, came to be interpreted as sign.

Semiotics is based on the assumption that all human products are at some point a means of communication and can thus be analyzed like language, with a similar distinction between language and speech. Thus, Levi-Strauss claims to reveal the basic unit or language of kinship systems in which the different kinship systems of each tribe are equivalent to speech acts. Similarly, Louis Althusser identifies an underlying social structure or ‘language’ of capitalism, in which the individual capitalist societies are speech acts.

To conclude the linguistics structuralism, we would observe that it is a method of identifying the underlying structures or logic of general meanings. It is sometimes also assumed that this structure of logic also matches the ‘structures’ of the world. It is based on the ground that as the mind is part of the world, the ideas it produced will have the same structure as the world.

Some major key features of structuralism are as under:

(1) Structuralism attempts to analyze world as a production of ideas.

(2) It assumes that the world has a logical pattern.

(3) There is death of the subject, that is, the individual in structural analyses is dead. Individual is created by societies; societies are not created by him.

(4) Structuralism is against historicism and empiricism.

(5) Saussure is the father of structuralism.

(6) Language and speech are different: language is social, it develops overtimes, speech is individual.

(7) Language consists of speech, sign and semiotics.

(8) The meaning of a linguistic sign depends upon its relationship to other signs.

(9) Signs are the basic units of language. They have two aspects: signifier and signified, signifier is the ‘material’ aspect and signified is the conceptual aspect.

(10) Barthes and Levi-Strauss have extended linguistics to other areas of semiotics.

(11) All in all, structuralism is a method of identifying the underlying structure or logic of general meanings.

(12) Structuralism claims to have attained the status of a totalizing theory. It is quite like the grand theory of Parsons. At a later stage, we shall see that post-structuralism abandons all these universalistic claims.

2. Anthropological Structuralism:

Structuralism is not a distinct discipline of social sciences. It is at its best an approach or a method and a theory. It can be employed as a perspective in analyzing a text or an object of reality. When structural perspective is used to understand and analyze the anthropological issues, it is called anthropological structuralism.

Claude Levi-Strauss is said to be the first French anthropologist who used structuralism to analyze kinship system and myths of primitive people. He argued that exchange of spouses can be analyzed in the same way as the exchange of words. Both are social exchanges that he studied through the use of social anthropology.

Besides Levi-Strauss, structuralism as a perspective was employed by Louis Althusser, a Marxist and Jacques Lacan, a psychoanalyst. Analyzing the works of anthropological structuralists Edith Kurzweie (1980) has asserted that ultimately all social reality is the interplay of unconscious mental structures.

The basic thrust of anthropologists in applying structuralism is that:

(1) The underlying structure comparatively remains constant, and

(2) There are varying relationships between the underlying elements.

These relationships produce different languages, systems of ideas and types of society. This theoretical abstraction is applied to the study of primitive kinship system and myths by Levi-Strauss. He very strongly argues that in primitive society, individual is totally subordinated to the relationships of elements of underlying structures.

Structuralism of Levi-Strauss:

The basic principles of structuralism are most visible in the writings of Levi-Strauss. He tries to find out the hidden unconscious laws or structures beneath surface manifestations. Malinowski, another anthropologist, is known for the study of primitive people.

He is said to be an authority on Trobriand islanders. But, his study is characterized by holism. He has made studies on specific societies. But, Strauss takes a different approach. He makes an approach to find out universals and common structures of the mind.

His focus was on the study of myths found among the tribal people. His four-volume book, Mythologies (1964-71) carries classification systems and myths. These classification systems are reduced to binary oppositions by Levi-Strauss. He says that the primitive people are rich in their imagination.

Levi-Strauss has taken up another anthropological issue for his study. His analysis of Totemism (1962) and the Savage Mind (1962) is yet another example of structural study. In Totemism he has tried to reveal the hidden logic of this practice. Without this logic, totemism would have gone as a blind belief of the primitives. Similarly, in the Savage Mind, Levi-Strauss has found that the primitive people had a science of the concrete.

The Elementary Structures of Kinship (1949) is considered to be a classical work of Levi-Strauss. The underlying principle of exchange of spouses in marriage is that when one cannot marry with his sister or brother, the only alternative left is to have spouse by exchange. Levi-Strauss argued that as we study language by the exchange of words, so we study the exchange of spouses.

George Ritzer (1997) has argued that Levi-Strauss found similarities between linguistic systems and kinship systems:

First, terms used to describe kinship, like phonemes in language, are basic units of analysis to the structural anthropologist.

Second, neither the kinship terms nor the phonemes have meaning in themselves.

Instead, both acquire meaning only when they are integral parts of a larger system. Levi-Strauss even used a system of binary opposition’s m his anthropological (for example, the raw and cooked food) analysis.

Certainly, Levi-Strauss gave a linguistic turn to social anthropology. But, at a later stage of his writings, he turned his research direction to a number of perspectives. Most importantly, he argued that “both phonemic systems and kinship systems are the products of the structures of mind. Instead, they are the products of the unconscious, logical structure of the mind. These systems as well as the logical structure of the mind from which they are derived, operate on the basis of general laws”.

The direction of anthropological structuralism of Levi-Strauss has thus two major turns. On the one hand, he says that it is the linguistic structure, which helps us enough to analyze the anthropological issues.

On the other hand, in his later orientation, he explains anthropological issues from the perspective of conscious and unconscious working of mind. The underlying structure is thus hidden in the mind of the individual. And this is, according to him, the genuine and fundamental structure.

C.R. Badcock has critically examined the anthropology of Levi-Strauss in his book, Levi-Strauss: Structuralism and Sociological Theory (1975). Badcock explains the reasons, which led Levi-Strauss to explain structuralism from the perspective of structure of mind.

For this analysis he employs the concepts of diachrony and synchrony. He argues that diachrony refers to changes of which we are immediately aware. In fact, diachrony is a historical development of language. This development, whenever takes place, we know it, we are aware of it.

Thus, language can be seen to change over a shorter or longer period. New words and phrases enter general usage and in this process there are also words and phrases which also disappear. The entry and exit of words is a shorter or longer process and it goes on continuously.

However, in this process, the structure remains constant. It is because the changes are produced by new combinations already provided for or contained within the underlying rules, the constancy occurs at the synchronic level.

Levi-Strauss argues that in the case of societies, it is possible to argue that the underlying structure, for example, capitalism remains the same and determines the history of apparent social change. And, this is the change we actually experience. A change in the type of society itself would involve a much more dramatic shift in the underlying structure. This is perhaps the radical form of structuralism. It is, however, not much in fashion today.

3. Structural Marxism:

Louis Althusser, Nicos Poulantzas and Maurice Godlier are the main contributors to structural Marxism. They try to establish that it was not Saussure who founded linguistics structuralism. In fact, it was Karl Marx who used structuralism as the method or approach to study social reality.

Godlier made this point very clear when he wrote:

When Marx assumes that structure is not to be confused with visible relations and explains their hidden logic, he inaugurates the modern structuralist tradition. Agreed that all scholars of structuralism, whether linguistic, anthropological or Marxian, talk about hidden or underlying structure, their conceptualization of structure is different. However, there are some structural Marxists who share with general structuralists an interest in the study of structure as a prerequisite to the study of history.

As Godlier said:

The study of the internal functioning of a structure must precede and illuminate the study of its genesis and evolution…. The inner logic of these systems must be analysed before their origin is analyzed.

Yet another view shared by structuralists and structural Marxists is that “structuralism should be concerned with the structures or systems that are formed out of the interplay of social relations. Both schools see structures that they consider real.

For Levi-Strauss the focus is on the structure of the mind, whereas for structural Marxists it is on the underlying structure of society”. Ritzer’s analysis is that whatever may be the variant of structuralism, empiricism remains a first-rate rejection.

He (1997) says:

What both structuralists and Marxists reject are the empiricist definitions of what constitutes a social structure?

Godlier’s rejection of empiricism runs as below:

For Marx as for Levi-Strauss a structure is not a reality that is directly visible, and so directly observable, but a level of reality that exists beyond the visible relations between men and the functioning of which constitutes the underlying logic of the system, the subjacent order by which the apparent order is to be explained.

There are, as we have seen above, some similarities in general structuralism and Marxian structuralism, the fact remains that the structuralist Marxists do not share with linguistic structuralism which Saussure proposed.

The structural Marxism all through its analysis has stressed on social and economic structures. It has adhered to the Marxian theory of production relations and production forces. It is because of this orientation that structural Marxism has established its distinct identity.

Althusser’s Marxist structuralism:

Louis Althusser was born in Algeria who later moved to France. He was a Marxist philosopher and a social theorist. Most of his Marxist structuralism was published in the 1960s, especially in two books, namely, For Marx (1965), and with Etinne Balibar, Reading Capital (1968).

A key aspect of Althusser’s analysis was separating Marx’s writing into four periods:

(1) 1840-1844, the early works;

(2) 1845, the works of the Break;

(3) 1846-1857, the transitional works, and

(4), 1857-1883, the mature works.

In doing so Althusser was able to downplay the importance of Marx’s early humanistic concern. Before we write anything about Althusser’s structural Marxism, we must say that Althusser always denied that he had been influenced by structuralism. For him, structuralism is nothing more than an ideology. Despite his denial, he is established as a Marxian structuralist. He defines society as a “structured whole, consisting of complex mental and physical conditions”. This complexity includes the contradictions of which Marx spoke.

Althusser (1969) says:

The contradictions constitute the conditions of existence. As an example, take the complex structured whole that is society. In it, the relations of production are not the pure phenomenon of the forces of production; they are also their condition of existence. The superstructure is not the pure phenomenon of the structure, it is also its condition of existence.

What makes Althusser a structuralist Marxist is his rediscovery of Marx. He has examined Marx from a new scientific perspective. His Marxian perspective of structuralism consists of two rejections:

(1) Humanism, and

(2) Historicism.

To begin with, Althusser says what Marxism is not. On this negative basis he starts the process of unearthing or rediscovering what Marxism is: “we begin with what Marxism is now understood not to be. For Althusser, of course, the important ‘nots’ are ‘humanism’ and ‘historicism’. These two ‘isms’ are closely linked to each other, but it is convenient to consider them separately. Sometimes, the word ‘historicism’ is used to describe all approaches which emphasize the significance of historical change. However, this is not what Althusser objects to.”

For him:

Historicism refers to those accounts of historical change, which represent it as a linear series of stages or phases, having a direction and with an inherent end-pointer purpose.

Althusser’s criticism of Marxist humanism:

Althusser is critical of Marx’s humanism. Actually, he very explicitly rejects humanism. In this sense, he becomes anti-humanist. Marx argues that humanism is a philosophical understanding of history. It is the human beings who themselves bring about their own development. He considers history as human self-development. Althusser is clearly against this kind of Marxian humanism.

And, therefore, what is alternative to Marxian humanism given by Althusser?

Individual has his own choices. Sometimes, it is also called ‘voluntarism’. It is found in its extreme form in Sartre’s existentialism. Economists often talk about individual’s rational choice. The structuralists do not agree with Sartre and individual’s freedom of choices.

They very strongly advocate that in structuralism there is death of subject or individual. It is the dominance of structure which subordinates the individual. Althusser, however, does not accept structuralists’ point of view. He argues that the surface appearance of things may be misleading as to the real structural causes which underlie them and produce them.

Althusser suggests that the individual has certain mental processes which need to be considered while asserting the choices of a particular person. Marx did not do that. He depended wholly on the progressive direction of history. He overlooked the status of individual in his humanism.

Althusser’s rejection of determinism and promotion of superstructure:

Althusser, in his book, Reading Capital (1968) has analyzed Mane’s economic determinism. Marx’s thesis is that the economic structure or mode of production determines the composition and history of society.

The different types of society that have existed in history can be classified in terms of the different modes of production. This is what we may call the ‘orthodox’ understanding of Marx’s economic thought. It is here that Althusser parts company with Marx and other conservative Marxists.

Althusser rejects economic determinism. He argues that a society is composed of a number of structures. Economic structure is one of them. Other structures include ideological, political, religious and theoretical or scientific structures.

These structures consist of practices. And, the practices have their own reality, their own contradictions. The structures of a society have causal relationship. Thus, the society is not influenced by economic structure only. It is influenced by all the structures which compose it.

Althusser (1968) says:

The real problem was that Marx had not developed an adequate theory of the superstructures to compare with his economic theory. One of the most urgent jobs to be done by contemporary Marxists was to correct this weakness in Marxism by developing theories of ideology and politics.

While rejecting Marx’s economic determinism, Althusser stresses on the importance of superstructure. He introduces the concept of causality and says that in each society there are a number of structures – political, economic, ideological, religious, literary, and so on. These structures influence one another. And, in the process of influencing, some have more influence than others. This is causal relationship between structures.

Althusser has developed a theory of superstructure. According to him, there are two types of superstructure: (1) Repressive State Apparatus (RSA), and (2) Ideological State Apparatus (ISA). The RSA includes police, courts of law and army which exercise state control over the citizens. Its major function is to maintain the social order mainly by the use of coercion.

The use of police to break strikes or contain demonstration is the example of RSA. By the concept of ISA, Althusser argues that the state secures the active consent of the majority to the existing power relations. These two major types of superstructure have causal relationship with economic and other structures of the society.

4. Post-structuralism:

The origin of post-structuralism goes back to Ferdinand Saussure’s structuralism. Structuralism has given the idea that a language creates its own objects. It says that the meaning of a word is never present in the word itself.

It is always somewhere else. On the simplest level, what structuralism says IS that the meaning of a word depends upon its relationship to other words – meaning lies between words rather than in the relationship between word and object.

We have discussed above three types of structuralism — linguistic, anthropological and Marxian. Post-structuralism has also developed from the soil of France. It seeks to distance itself from existentialism, empiricism, historicism, phenomenology, Marxism and Freudian theory. It also keeps itself away from Barthes, Levi-Strauss, Althusser, and so on.

It is difficult to pinpoint the period when structuralism ended and post-structuralism began. However, Lamert (1990) traces the beginning of post-structuralism to a 1966 speech given by Jacques Derrida in which he proclaimed the dawning of a new post-structuralism from much of the philosophical background of postmodern theory.

Indeed, nowadays, post-structuralism is often seen as postmodern philosophy. One of the dangers of this is that it can give the impression that post-structuralism is a single school of thought or academic discipline. In fact, the term is regularly used to unite the work or a fairly diverse group of thinkers, few of whomever described themselves as poststructuralists.

Also, although the word ‘post-structuralism’ implies that it simply took over from structuralism at some point in history, it is truer to say that, especially in the 1960s and 1970s, the two ran alongside each other and often crossed tracks. At a later stage of our discussion, we shall have opportunity to differentiate between structuralism and post-structuralism, and post-modernity.

Meaning of post-structuralism:

Oxford Dictionary of Sociology:

Post-structuralism’s prime achievement has been to rediscover and extend the radical analytical possibilities inherent in Saussure’s theory of language as a significatory rather than a representational phenomenon.

Glenn Ward (1997):

Although it has had most impact in the field of literary theory and criticism, structuralism is best thought of as an approach or method rather than as a clearly defined discipline…. At the most general level, structuralism can be seen as bringing to the fore a number of questions about meaning, representation and authorship, and as exploring the relationships between language and knowledge.

In this respect, it can be seen as a part of a widespread pre-occupation with language which has affected a great deal of thought (including what we now call postmodernism) throughout the 20th century.

George Ritzer (1997):

Post-structuralism has come as a reaction to structuralism. We can define post-structuralism as a rebel against structuralism. We can define post-structuralism as a school of thought that builds upon, but seeks distance itself from the structuralism associated with thinkers like Ferdinand Saussure, Ronald Barthes, Claude Levi-Strauss, Louis Althusser, and so on.

The main theme of structuralism is to find out as from where the meaning comes. Does it come from the text itself? Does it come from the context in which the text is consumed? Is the reader free to create his own meaning?

To what degree can the author of a text control how it is interpreted? Does the production of meaning arise from the interaction of-these factors? These are some of the questions which structuralists often ask.

The following major ideas make the definition and meaning of post-structuralism clear and precise:

(1) Language cannot point outside of itself.

(2) Language produces meaning.

(3) Language does not express individuality.

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Some Facts About Early Theatre

The first permanent English theatre, the ‘Red Lion’ opened in 1567 but it was a short-lived failure. The first successful theatres, such as The Theatre, opened in 1576.

2.Their construction was prompted when the Mayor and Corporation of London first banned plays in 1572 as a measure against the plague, and then formally expelled all players from the city in 1575. This prompted the construction of permanent playhouses outside the jurisdiction of London, in the liberties of Halliwell/Holywell in Shoreditch and later the Clink, and at Newington Butts near the established entertainment district of St. George’s Fields in rural Surrey. The Theatre was constructed in Shoreditch in 1576 by James Burbage with his brother-in-law John Brayne (the owner of the unsuccessful Red Lion playhouse of 1567) and the Newington Butts playhouse was set up, probably by Jerome Savage, some time between 1575 and 1577. 
3.The Theatre was rapidly followed by the nearbyCurtain Theatre (1577), the Rose (1587), the Swan (1595), the Globe (1599), the Fortune (1600), and the Red Bull(1604).
4.Thomas Middleton’s A Game at Chess ran for nine straight performances in August 1624 before it was closed by the authorities—but this was due to the political content of the play and was a unique, unprecedented, and unrepeatable phenomenon. 
5.One distinctive feature of the companies was that they included only males. Female parts were played by adolescent boy players in women’s costume. Performances also occurred in the afternoon since no artificial lighting existed. When the light did begin to fade, candles were lit so that the play could continue until its end. Plays contained little to no scenery as the scenery was described by the actors through the course of the play.
6.Sumptuary laws  are laws that try to regulate consumption. Black's Law Dictionary defines them as "Laws made for the purpose of restraining luxury or extravagance, particularly against inordinate expenditures for apparel, food, furniture, etc." Historically, they were intended to regulate and reinforce social hierarchies and morals through restrictions on clothing, food, and luxury expenditures, often depending on a person's social rank.

Societies have used sumptuary laws for a variety of purposes. They were used to try to regulate the balance of trade by limiting the market for expensive imported goods. They made it easy to identify social rank and privilege, and as such could be used for social discrimination.

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7.Playwrights dealt with the natural limitation on their productivity by combining into teams of two, three, four, and even five to generate play texts; the majority of plays written in this era were collaborations, and the solo artists who generally eschewed collaborative efforts, like Jonson and Shakespeare, were the exceptions to the rule. Dividing the work, of course, meant dividing the income; but the arrangement seems to have functioned well enough to have made it worthwhile. (The truism that says, diversify your investments, may have worked for the Elizabethan play market as for the modern stock market.) Of the 70-plus known works in the canon of Thomas Dekker, roughly 50 are collaborations; in a single year, 1598, Dekker worked on 16 collaborations for impresario Philip Henslowe, and earned £30, or a little under 12 shillings per week—roughly twice as much as the average artisan’s income of 1s. per day. At the end of his career, Thomas Heywood would famously claim to have had “an entire hand, or at least a main finger” in the authorship of some 220 plays. A solo artist usually needed months to write a play (though Jonson is said to have done Volpone in five weeks); Henslowe’s Diary indicates that a team of four or five writers could produce a play in as little as two weeks. Admittedly, though, the Diary also shows that teams of Henslowe’s house dramatists—Anthony Munday, Robert Wilson, Richard Hathwaye, Henry Chettle, and the others, even including a young John Webster—could start a project, and accept advances on it, yet fail to produce anything stageworthy. (Modern understanding of collaboration in this era is biased by the fact that the failures have generally disappeared with barely a trace; for one exception to this rule .

8.The Worshipful Company of Stationers and Newspaper Makers (until 1937 the Worshipful Company of Stationers), usually known as the Stationers' Company, is one of the livery companies of the City of London. The Stationers' Company was formed in 1403; it received a royal charter in 1557. It held a monopoly over the publishing industry and was officially responsible for setting and enforcing regulations until the enactment of the Statute of Anne, also known as the Copyright Act of 1710. Once the company received its charter, “the company’s role was to regulate and discipline the industry, define proper conduct and maintain its own corporate privileges.”

9.Sonnet :23 by Shakespeare 

As an unperfect actor on the stage,

Who with his fear is put besides his part,
Or some fierce thing replete with too much rage,
Whose strength’s abundance weakens his own heart;
So I, for fear of trust, forget to say
The perfect ceremony of love’s right,
And in mine own love’s strength seem to decay,
O’ercharged with burthen of mine own love’s might.
O, let my books be then the eloquence
And dumb presagers of my speaking breast;
Who plead for love, and look for recompense,
More than that tongue that more hath more express’d.
O, learn to read what silent love hath writ:
To hear with eyes belongs to love’s fine wit.
10.   HAMLET ON ACTING, THEATRE.... 👇


In his very first scene, Hamlet polices the boundaries between performance and reality. When his worried mother asks why his grief ‘seems ... so particular’ (1.2.75) with him, Hamlet ignores her main point (why does he grieve more intensely than other bereaved sons?) and snatches at the idea of ‘seeming’:

Seems, madam? nay, it is, I know not ‘seems.’
’Tis not alone my inky cloak, [good] mother,
Nor customary suits of solemn black,
Nor windy suspiration of forc’d breath,
No, nor the fruitful river in the eye,
Nor the dejected havior of the visage,
Together with all forms, moods, [shapes] of grief,
That can [denote] me truly. These indeed seem,
For they are actions that a man might play,
But I have that within which passes show,
These but the trappings and the suits of woe.’ (1.2.76–86)

William Shakespeare, in his many plays, produced a large number of quotes on the subject of acting.

Quotes👇👇👇👇👇

  • If it be true that good wine needs no bush, 'tis true that a good play needs no epilogue.
  • Like a dull actor now,
    I have forgot my part, and I am out,
    Even to a full disgrace.
    • Coriolanus (c. 1607-08), Act V, scene 3, line 40.
  • Out, out, brief candle!
    Life's but a walking shadow,
    A poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage, and then is heard no more:
    it is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.
    • Macbeth (c. 1605), Act V, Scene 5, line 23.
  • As in a theatre, the eyes of men,
    After a well-grac'd actor leaves the stage,
    Are idly bent on him that enters next,
    Thinking his prattle to be tedious.
  • I can counterfeit the deep tragedian;
    Speak and look back, and pry on every side,
    Tremble and start at wagging of a straw,
    Intending deep suspicion.
  • A beggarly account of empty boxes.
  • And, like a strutting player, whose conceit
    Lies in his hamstring, and doth think it rich
    To hear the wooden dialogue and sound
    'Twixt his stretch'd footing and the scaffoldage.

Hamlet (1600-02)

  • Good, my lord, will you see the players well bestowed? Do you hear, let them be well used; for they are the abstract and brief chronicles of the time: after your death you were better have a bad epitaph than their ill report while you live.
    • Act II, scene 2, line 545.
  • Is it not monstrous that this player here,
    But in a fiction, in a dream of passion,
    Could force his soul so to his own conceit
    That from her working all his visage wann'd.
    • Act II, scene 2, line 577.
  • What's Hecuba to him, or he to Hecuba,
    That he should weep for her? What would he do.
    Had he the motive and the cue for passion
    That I have? He would drown the stage with tears.
    • Act II, scene 2, line 585.
  • I have heard
    That guilty creatures sitting at a play,
    Have, by the very cunning of the scene,
    Been struck so to the soul that presently
    They have proclaim'd their malefactions;
    For murder, though it have no tongue, will speak.
    With most miraculous organ.
    • Act II, scene 2, line 617.
  • The play's the thing
    Wherein I'll catch the conscience of the king.
    • Act II, scene 2, line 633.
  • Speak the speech, I pray you, as I pronounced it to you, trippingly on the tongue; but if you mouth it, as many of your players do, I had as lief the town-crier spoke my lines. Nor do not saw the air too much with your hand, thus, but use all gently; for in the very torrent, tempest, and, as I may say, the whirlwind of passion, you must acquire and beget a temperance that may give it smoothness.
    • Act III, scene 2, line 1.
  • Suit the action to the word, the word to the action, with this special observance, that you o'erstep not the modesty of nature.
    • Act III, scene 2, line 19.
  • O, there be players that I have seen play, and heard others praise, and that highly, not to speak it profanely, that, neither having the accent of Christians nor the gait of Christian, pagan, nor man, have so strutted and bellowed that I have thought some of nature's journeymen had made men and not made them well, they imitated humanity so abominably.
    • Act III, scene 2, line 32.

A Midsummer Night's Dream (c. 1595-96)Edit

  • Come, sit down, every mother's son, and rehearse your parts.
    • Act III, scene 1, line 74.
  • Is there no play,
    To ease the anguish of a torturing hour?
    • Act V, scene 1, line 36.
  • A play there is, my lord, some ten words long,
    Which is as brief as I have known a play;
    But by ten words, my lord, it is too long,
    Which makes it tedious.
    • Act V, scene 1, line 61.

Monday, August 3, 2020

Morality Plays

Sonnet 141 
By Shakespeare 👇👇👇
This sonnet is important because we get a reference of Five wits and Five Senses here. 


In faith, I do not love thee with mine eyes,
For they in thee a thousand errors note;
But ’tis my heart that loves what they despise,
Who, in despite of view, is pleas’d to dote;
Nor are mine ears with thy tongue’s tune delighted;
Nor tender feeling, to base touches prone,
Nor taste, nor smell, desire to be invited
To any sensual feast with thee alone:
But my five wits nor my five senses can
Dissuade one foolish heart from serving thee,
Who leaves unsway’d the likeness of a man,
Thy proud heart’s slave and vassal wretch to be:
Only my plague thus far I count my gain,
That she that makes me sin awards me pain.

Shakespeare himself refers to these wits several times, in Romeo and Juliet (Act I, scene 4, and Act II, scene iv), King Lear (Act III, scene iv), Much Ado About Nothing (Act I, scene i, 55), and Twelfth Night (Act IV, scene ii, 92). He distinguished between the five wits and the five senses, as can be seen from Sonnet 141.

The five wits are derived from the faculties of the soul that Aristotle describes in De Anima.

The inward wits are part of medieval psychological thought. Geoffrey Chaucer translated BoethiusConsolation of Philosophy into Middle English. According to Chaucer's translation, "ymaginacioun" is the most basic internal faculty of perception. One can, with the imagination, call to mind the image of an object, either one directly experienced or a purely imaginary fabrication. Above that comes "resoun", by which such images of individual objects are related to the universal classes to which they belong. Above that comes "intelligence", which relates the universal classes to eternal "symple forme" (akin to a Platonic ideal). Humans are thus "sensible", "ymaginable", and "reasonable" (i.e. capable of sensing, imagination, and reason, as defined), all three of which feed into memory. (Intelligence is the sole remit of Divine Providence.)


witsEdit

Stephen Hawes' poem Graunde Amoure shows that the five (inward) wits were "common wit", "imagination", "fantasy", "estimation", and "memory"."Common wit" corresponds to Aristotle's concept of common sense (sensus communis), and "estimation" roughly corresponds to the modern notion of instinct.


The five (outward) senses, as described in Cursor Mundi, are "hering" (hearing), "sight", "smelling" (smell), "fele" (touch) and "cheuing" (taste).It relates them to the five Empedoclean elements (which Aristotle describes in De Caelo), with sight coming from fire, hearing from the upper air (the aether), smell from the lower air, taste from water, and touch from earth. This definition of the origins of human senses was an exceedingly popular one throughout the Middle Ages in Europe, not least because of its rough agreement with chapter 30 of the Second Book of Enoch.

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1.The Master of Revels The man to impress and fear... Anyone involved in the production of plays in Elizabethan England, from the playwright...