RICHARD L. W. CLARKE


 

 

 

LITS3304 (E33D) POST-STRUCTURALISMS AND POST-COLONIALISMS

PAST EXAM PAPERS

2011-2012

Answer TWO questions in all.

In each answer, you should refer closely to the arguments advanced by the theorists in question.

1. Deconstruction, according to Derrida, substitutes the "concepts of play, interpretation, and . . . sign without present truth" for the "concepts of Being and truth." Discuss. (30 Marks)

2. Barthes’s goal, in "Textual Analysis of a Tale by Edgar Allan Poe," is to describe not the "structure of a work" but rather "how the text explodes and scatters." In what ways is ‘textual analysis’ different from ‘structuralist narratology’? (30 Marks)

3. Discuss De Man’s view, in "Semiology and Rhetoric," that the

grammatical model . . . becomes rhetorical not when we have, on the one hand, a literal meaning and on the other hand a figural meaning, but when it is impossible to decide . . . which of the two meanings . . . prevails.

(30 Marks)

4. Explain Miller’s claim, in "The Critic as Host," that a "poem, like all texts, is ‘unreadable,’ if by ‘readable’ one means a single, definitive interpretation." (30 Marks)

5. In "Poetry, Revisionism, Repression," Bloom argues that poems are not "self-contained" in that they do not have a "meaning without reference to other texts." Why, according to Bloom, is this the case? (30 Marks)


2010-2011

Answer TWO questions in all, ONE from Section A and ONE from Section B.

In each answer, you should refer closely to the arguments advanced by the theorists in question.

SECTION A: STRUCTURALIST MARXISM

1.    Would it be fair to describe Althusser’s version of Marxism as ‘Structuralist’?  Answer with reference to at least ONE of the following essays:

  • "Contradiction and Overdetermination";
  • "Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses";
  • Part I of Reading Capital.

2.    Explain Eagleton’s claim in Criticism and Ideology that "in yielding up to criticism the ideologically determined conventionality of its modes of constructing sense, the text at the same time obliquely illuminates the relation of that ideology to real history."

3.    Discuss the influence of Structuralist Marxism on EITHER Hall’s "Race, Articulation and Societies Structured in Dominance" OR Bhabha’s "Representation and the Colonial Text."

SECTION B: FOUCAULDIAN DISCOURSE THEORY

4.    With reference to The Archaeology of Knowledge and / or "Nietzsche, Genealogy, History," discuss Foucault’s concept of discourse.

5.    Is there a specifically Foucauldian approach to criticism? Answer with reference to at least ONE of the following essays:

  • Foucault, "What is an Author?";
  • Said, "Secular Criticism";
  • Greenblatt, "Towards a Poetics of Culture."

6.    What exactly is Foucauldian about Said’s claim that the Orient is "not an inert fact of nature" but, rather, an "idea that has a history and a tradition of thought, imagery and vocabulary that has given it reality and presence for the West"?


2009-2010

Answer TWO questions in all, ONE from Section A and ONE from Section B.
In each answer, you should refer closely to the arguments advanced by the theorists in question.

SECTION A: STRUCTURALIST PSYCHOANALYSIS

1. “Little psychoanalysis, but a lot of structuralism.” Discuss this characterisation of Structuralist Psychoanalysis with reference to TWO essays studied in this module.
2. Would you agree that, for Lacan, “what is valuable in Freud are his literary tendencies, rather than his scientific pretensions”?
3. Discuss Bhabha’s debt, if any, to Structuralist Psychoanalysis.

SECTION B: DECONSTRUCTION

4. What do you understand by Derrida’s notion of ‘différance’? How has it informed the work of ONE literary theorist studied in this module?
5. Referring closely to TWO essays studied in this module, explain the deconstructive approach to literary criticism.
6. Why might some Post-colonial theory be described as ‘deconstructive’ in approach? Answer with reference to TWO essays studied in this module.


2008-2009

Answer TWO questions, each from a different section.

DIALOGISM (THE BAKHTIN CIRCLE)

1. What do you understand by a ‘dialogical’ model of literature? Answer through close reference to the views of both Medvedev and Bakhtin.
2. “Signifyin(g) . . . is repetition and revision, or repetition with a signal difference. Whatever is black about black American literature is to be found in this identifiable black Signifyin(g) difference.” Carefully explain Gates’ claim here.

STRUCTURALIST MARXISM

3. What light does Eagleton shed on Althusser’s argument that the “peculiarity of art is to make us see, make us perceive, make us feel something which alludes to reality,” rather than provide “scientific knowledge”?
4. Why, according to Bhabha, is it vital for Postcolonial thinkers to engage in a “critique of representation as simply given”? How exactly should this be accomplished, in his view?

FOUCAULDIAN DISCOURSE THEORY

5. Discourse, Foucault argues, is a “violence that we do to things . . . a practice we impose upon them.” What light does this claim shed on a specifically ‘Foucauldian’ approach to criticism?
6. Discuss the implications for Postcolonial criticism of Said’s view that the "designation of European culture as the privileged norm carried with it a formidable battery of distinctions between ours and theirs, between proper and improper, European and non-European, higher and lower."


2007-2008

Answer TWO questions in all.

In each answer, you should refer to the work of TWO theorists.

1. What do you understand by the term ‘Post-Structuralism’? Answer with reference to the work of TWO theorists studied.

2. "All truth-claims are relative. There is no such thing as absolute truth." Examine the response of TWO of the following theorists to this claim:

  • Levi-Strauss "Language and the Analysis of Social Laws"
  • Althusser "From Capital to Marx's Philosophy"
  • Derrida "Structure, Sign and Play in the Discourse of the Human Sciences"
  • Foucault "The Discourse on Language" and /or "Nietzsche, Genealogy, History"
  • Said Orientalism

3. "What," Foucault asks, "is an Author?" Discuss the answer offered by TWO of the following theorists to this question:

  • Tomashevsky "Literature and Biography"
  • Barthes "The Death of the Author"
  • Foucault "What is an Author?"
  • Gates "Binary Opposites in . . . Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass"

4. Compare the views of TWO of the following theorists on the issue of literary history / intertextuality:

  • Jakobson and Tynianov "Problems in the Study of Literature and Language"
  • Tynianov "On Literary Evolution"
  • Bloom "Poetry, Revisionism, Repression"
  • Said "Secular Criticism"
  • Gates "Figures of Signification"

5. "Post-Structuralists all share De Man’s doubts concerning what he calls the ‘myth of semantic correspondence between sign and referent.’" Discuss with reference to the views of TWO of the following theorists:

  • Jakobson "On Realism in Art"
  • De Man "Semiology and Rhetoric"
  • Bakhtin "Discourse in the Novel"
  • Eagleton "Towards a Science of the Text"
  • Bhabha "Representation and the Colonial Text"

6. Literature must be "understood in its specificity, as literature, before we seek to determine its relation to anything else." Compare the response of TWO of the following theorists to this claim:

  • Todorov "Structural Analysis of Narrative"
  • Barthes "Textual Analysis of a Tale by Edgar Allan Poe"
  • Bakhtin "Discourse in the Novel"
  • Eagleton "Towards a Science of the Text"
  • Bhabha "Representation and the Colonial Text"

2006-2007

Course not taught.


2005-2006

Answer TWO (2) questions.

  1. "Any discourse finds the object at which it was directed always already enveloped by the ‘light’ of words that have already been spoken about it" (Bakhtin).  In the light of this comment, examine the critique of literary realism advanced by TWO theorists studied.

  2. Can criticism be a "science" (Eagleton)?  Answer with reference to the views of TWO theorists studied.

  3. What do you understand by Gates’s claim that African American writers "Signify through parody"?  With reference to the views of at least ONE other theorist, say whether you think such a view is applicable to other kinds of literature.

  4. Would you agree that Post-Structuralism is hostile to the view that literature is the "expression of a unique sensibility or world view – the author’s " (Lodge)? Discuss with reference to the views of TWO theorists studied.

  5. Compare the ways in which TWO Post-colonial theorists urge us to rethink the nature of ONE of the following:

  • the social formation and governance;
  • knowledge; or
  • the self.

2004-2005

Answer TWO (2) questions.

1. Referring to “Linguistics and Grammatology” and / or “Différance,” outline Derrida’s critique of Saussure’s model of signification.
2. Comment on Barthes’ assertion in “The Death of the Author” that “writing is the destruction of every voice, of every point of origin. Writing is that neutral space . . . where our subject slips away, the negative where all identity is lost.”
3. Discuss Bloom’s view in “Poetry, Revision, Repression” that “any poem is an inter-poem, and any reading of a poem is an inter-reading. A poem is not a writing, but rewriting.”
4. Explain Bhabha’s comment in “Representation and the Colonial Text” that to “represent the colonial subject is to conceive of the subject of difference, of an-other history and an-other culture.”
5. What are Hall’s reasons in “Cultural Identity and Diaspora” for advocating a model of Caribbean cultural identity based not on the “rediscovery but the production of identity. Not an identity grounded in the archaeology, but in the re-telling of the past”?


2003-2004

Answer TWO (2) questions in all, ONE from section A and THE OTHER from section B.

Section A: Discursive Criticism:

  1. What, according to Foucault, is an author?

  2. Examine Biddy Martin’s view that Feminists must "read not only individual texts but literary history and critical discourse as well, not as reflections of a truth or lie with respect to a pre-given real, but as instruments for the exercise of power, as paradigmatic enactments of those struggles over meaning."

  3. Discuss Said’s definition of literary Orientalism as a "dynamic exchange between individual authors and the large political concerns shaped by the three great empires--British, French, American."

Section B: Structuralist Marxist Criticism:

  1. What does Eagleton mean when he writes that the goal of criticism is the "not-said, the unconsciousness of the work, that of which it is not, and cannot be, aware"?

  2. How, according to Michèle Barrett, is the "ideology of gender produced and reproduced in cultural practice"?

  3. How exactly, according to JanMohamed, does the "colonial social structure" impinge on the "structures of literary works produced within that ambiance"?


2002-2003

Answer TWO questions in all, ONE from Section A and THE OTHER from Section B.

Section A: Lacanian Psychoanalysis / Deconstruction

  1. Explain Lacan’s claim that what psychoanalysis "discovers in the unconscious is the whole structure of language."

  2. Why does De Man argue that "rhetoric radically suspends the logic of grammar and opens up vertiginous possibilities of referential aberration"? What are the implications of this view for critical practice?

  3. Discuss the implications of the following quotation by Fish: 

Rhetorically, the new critical position announces itself as a break from the old, but in fact it is radically dependent on the old, because it is only in the context of some differential relationship that it can be perceived as new or, for that matter, perceived at all.

Section B: Feminist and Post-colonial Perspectives

  1. Discuss Cixous’ claim that all binary opposites are reducible in the final analysis to the "couple man / woman."

  2. Assess the implications for Caribbean criticism of Hall’s view that cultural identity is "not a fixed essence . . . lying unchanged outside history and culture."

  3. Exactly how, according to Gates, does Frederick Douglass’s autobiography initiate an "inversion of . . . oppositions" as a result of which "slave has become master, creature has become man, object has become subject"?


2001-2002

Answer TWO questions in all, ONE from Section A and ONE from Section B.

Section A: Lacanian Psychoanalysis / Deconstruction

  1. Why, according to Barthes, is the Author ‘dead’?

  2. Discuss the implications for feminist criticism of Irigaray’s efforts to "step outside the dominant phallic economy."

  3. How does Hall make use of Derrida’s concept of ‘différance’ to rethink the nature of Caribbean culture?

Section B: (Post-)Structuralist Marxism:

  1. Compare Althusser’s notion of ideology with traditional Marxist concepts.

  2. Discuss Eagleton’s view that ideology "exists because there are certain things which must not be spoken" as a result of which it is "present in the text in the form of its eloquent silences."

  3. On what grounds does Bhabha reject the approaches to criticism advanced by both Rohlehr and Ramchand?


2000-2001

Course Not Offered.


1999-2000

Extended Research Paper; No Exam.


1998-1999

Answer TWO of the following questions:

  1. With reference to TWO theorists whom you have studied this semester, consider the view that "all contemporary theorists of literature are necessarily engaged in a dialogue with Saussure’s critique of the sign."

  2. Compare TWO major conceptions of ‘discourse’ which you have come across this semester.

  3. Discuss some of the reasons why Bakhtin’s views on both language and the novel have been particularly well received by Post-colonial, African American, and/or Feminist critics.

  4. Barthes once asserted that the meaning of a literary text lies less in its origin than in its destination. Discuss, in the light of this claim, some of the implications of Derrida’s notion of différance for literary criticism.

  5. "He shows us not only how we were constructed as ‘Other’ by Western regimes of knowledge but also, more importantly perhaps, how we were made to internalise these views to our own detriment."  Is this an apt description of Edward Said’s Orientalism?


1997-1998

Answer TWO of the following questions:

  1. "Many contemporary schools of philosophy and literary criticism seek to 'decentre' the notion of an 'essential self' in a way that frequently makes the Post-colonial critic more than a little uneasy."  Discuss with reference to ONE such school exactly why this might be the case.

  2. Discuss some of the similarities and differences between Saussure's and Bakhtin's views of language.

  3. "For the Longinian notion of original authorial genius, Bakhtin and his Post-colonial interlocutors substitute a different view of authorship, one characterised by 'parody,' 'abrogation and appropriation,' 'Signifyin(g),' and their other synonyms."  Discuss.

  4. "Unreadability arises from that surplus of signification which undermines authorial intention."  In the light of the preceding statement, discuss the role of the reader in the production of meaning.

  5. "Barthes strips the author of agency which Bakhtin, at least partially, had restored."  With which view, Barthes's or Bakhtin's, might the Post-colonial critic be more comfortable and for what reasons?


1996-1997

Answer TWO of the following questions:

  1. Would you agree that the theorists whom you have studied in this course "exist in a relationship of 'abrogation and appropriation' to each other: each 'writes back' to his / her predecessors"?

  2. Examine TWO reading methodologies inspired by Derrida's notion of 'differance.'

  3. "Recent Postmodernist attempts to rethink the relationship between history and literature have important implications for the Post-colonial project."  Discuss.

  4. Discuss some of the reasons why Bakhtin's dialogical concept of language has proved itself to be particularly attractive to Post-colonial and African American literary critics.

  5. Discuss some of the ways in which Post-colonial critics have appropriated Foucault's notion of 'dicourse' to their own ends.

 

This site was last updated: January 24, 2012

Please direct all queries
HERE

 

Philosophy's Other: Theory on the Web

↑ Grab this Headline Animator