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Discourse: Deconstruction; Gaps and Silences; Binary Opposition: Home

Language and Meaning

Jacques Derrida

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What is Deconstruction?

In this lecture on Derrida and the origins of deconstruction, Professor Paul Fry explores two central Derridian works: "Structure, Sign, and Play in the Discourse of Human Sciences" and "Différance." Derrida's critique of structuralism and semiotics, particularly the work of Levi-Strauss and Saussure, is articulated. Deconstruction's central assertions that language is by nature arbitrary and that meaning is indeterminate are examined. Key concepts, such as the nature of the text, discourse, différance, and supplementarity are explored.

00:00 - Chapter 1. Origins and Influence of Jacques Derrida
06:33 - Chapter 2. Derrida's Style
09:25 - Chapter 3. The Eiffel Tower and Wallace Stevens' "Anecdote of the Jar"
17:00 - Chapter 4. Levi-Strauss and the Oedipus Myth
22:39 - Chapter 5. Derrida and Semiotic Science
28:13 - Chapter 6. "Event" and History
33:42 - Chapter 7. Language and Writing
42:34 - Chapter 8. Language, Supplementarity, and Différance

In this second lecture on deconstruction, Professor Paul Fry concludes his consideration of Derrida and begins to explore the work of Paul de Man. Derrida's affinity for and departure from Levi-Strauss's distinction between nature and culture are outlined. De Man's relationship with Derrida, their similarities and differences--particularly de Man's insistence on "self-deconstruction" and his reliance on Jakobson--are discussed. The difference between rhetoric and grammar, particularly the rhetoricization of grammar and the grammaticization of rhetoric, is elucidated through de Man's own examples taken from "All in the Family," Yeats' "Among School Children," and the novels of Proust.

00:00 - Chapter 1. Derrida and Levi-Strauss
10:37 - Chapter 2. Writing and Speech
16:06 - Chapter 3. Paul de Man and Nazism
24:37 - Chapter 4. Similarities Between De Man and Derrida
33:35 - Chapter 5. De Man and Derrida: Differences
39:24 - Chapter 6. Examples: "All in the Family," Yeats, and Proust