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Additional info for Critical and Cultural Theory: Thematic Variations
REPRESENTATION - act, state, or fact of representing or being represented: that which represents: an image: picture: dramatic performance: a mental image: a presentation of a view of facts or arguments: a petition, remonstrance, expostulation: assumption of succession by an heir: a body of representatives. (Chambers Twentieth-Century Dictionary) These definitions are not intended to supply a prescriptive or exhaustive model of analysis. However, they seem to provide an appropriate starting point for the present discussion because they highlight the complexity and multi-accentuality of the issue of representation.
This critique of Structuralism has been developed, since the mid-1970s, by a cluster of theoretical positions commonly grouped under the heading of Poststructuralism. Poststructuralism embraces the structuralist idea that meanings are constructed by language but suggests that language itself is not a reliable model. Language does not deliver universal structures or presences but rather traces, barely legible yet daunting imprints of an absent other which simply cannot be fixed. All structures are transient and all meanings inconclusive, for signifiers and signifieds have a knack of pulling apart and reuniting in ever new and often unforeseen combinations.
Language does not deliver universal structures or presences but rather traces, barely legible yet daunting imprints of an absent other which simply cannot be fixed. All structures are transient and all meanings inconclusive, for signifiers and signifieds have a knack of pulling apart and reuniting in ever new and often unforeseen combinations. Poststructuralism deems the notion of a universal system sustained by binary oppositions an act of violence bent on arresting the endless play of signs. At the same time, it emphasizes the remainders which language seems to ignore and yet which play a crucial part in all people's lives: silences, gaps, inexpressible ideas and feelings, things we mean but cannot say and things we say without actually meaning them.