POST-STRUCTURALISM + LIT THEORY

Currently studying English Literature at University, this weeks lecture was based on Post-structuralism. I couldn’t find much stuff online, so I thought I’d post this in case someone stumbles across it needing help on the subject or if anyone actually finds this interesting.

Theory is not the same as knowledge or expertise in a certain field, because theory is a speculation. Structuralism doesn’t have to be based on anything concrete, just based on something feasibly explainable. Many other types of Literary Theory spawned on from Post-Structuralism. New theory and criticism is developed as human society and culture continues to grow (e.g. – Lesbian criticism is now accepted. Academia wouldn’t have accepted it in the 60’s).

To decode post-structuralism we have to understand what structuralism is- Peter Barry compares structuralism to the ‘chicken and the egg’ in which Structuralists focus on the chicken rather than the close analysis of the egg that liberal humanists do. It is a belief that things cannot be understood in isolation but seen in the context of the larger structures- The bigger picture, as it were. Structuralism came about when revolution was in the air, socially, politically and intellectually. It’s linked very closely with Linguistics. Saussure’s a ‘History of Linguistics’ – claims how any word in any language, doesn’t actually have any relevance to the thing it describes.

Frederick Nietzsche states truths are illusions; we create language like we would fiction. Edith Kurtzwell in ‘The Age of Structuralism: From Lévi-Strauss to Foucault’- states that the structuralism that Levi-Strauss invented is dead, but has prepared the ground for the various ‘post-structuralisms’

Barry argues post-structuralism is a form of rebellion against it, and more of a cultural than intellectual movement, derived from philosophy rather than linguistics. Post-structuralism is conceptual, questioning the very notions of Truth.

Language systems are illogical, and Saussure’s ‘Course in General Linguistics’ states that word meanings are arbiturary. It regarded truth as an effect rather than present ‘in something’ and everything was defined in terms of everything else- Saussure’s theory of relation. That process itself was relative and constructed, maintaining while words have no central meaning, language is an essential tool of social power.

Texts are open to an unlimited variety of meaning, making us question the world itself as radically uncertain, for language does not reflect the world but shapes it. It raises questions such as if language is deceptive, then who is in control of this system?

Post-Structuralist thinking attaches a more rational and acceptance towards the words and story in a text, looking for a meaning that might seem on a different level than the author may have intended. They do this by referencing the text with the ideology of the time and culture that they are reading in that day- much like to the close reading we as English literature students do.

I personally believe that to truly understand a text we don’t need to know all the social and political context- you can gather your own meaning in relation to how our society and viewpoint stands today, despite the author’s  original intent.

Post-structuralism essentially creates the ‘death of the author’ by creating the ‘birth of the reader’– a concept devised by Barthes in which he argues that readers construct polysemas texts, having many authors and meanings. Barthes argues that we cannot rely on the author’s identity to serve as an explanation for the text, we cannot understand what the writers intentions were and that the author was not the prime source of the work’s semantic content.

In Peter Barry’s talk ‘The ends of theory’ he said to always start with the text rather than the theory itself. He stated structuralism actually takes the reader further away from the original text, into more abstract questions rather than giving us more illumination on the meaning of the text. Barry discusses how Roland Barthes essay ‘The death of the author’ (1968) “makes a declaration of radical textual independence” and is “free of all such restraints”.

Herein lies the debate and the clearest distinction between the two- does the context behind a text help discover, or hinder it? Do we need to see the bigger picture or to focus on the text in hand? It is not something to ever be decided- everything we’ve learnt so far is that there is no ‘truth’ or ‘fixed meaning’, since, as Barry sates, “there is no truth about these matters which exists outside language

Advertisements

REIGN REVIEW

After scouring Netflix for another show to watch, I stumbed across ‘Reign’. It looked quite like popular show ‘The Tudors’, something that I’ve always wanted to watch but never have. I loved period dramas and historical films, so I thought I’d give it a go. By the first episode, I was so in love with it that I knew I’d have to write about it. Firstly, the plot begins and ges straight into the action- a poisoning at the convent in which Mary, Queen of scots, is staying at for her protection. She then travels to France where she re-meets her betrothed, the handsome Francis, exchanging some eye-sex with him after seeing his also handsome brother, ‘Bash’- an illegitamet son of the king. The season shows the development of her romance with the two brothers as she is forced continuously to choose between duty and love. The themes of nationality, identity and royalty come across strongly in this brilliant series.

First of all, the cinematography of the show amazed me. The camera work is smooth and graceful, and the picture is perfect. We are graced with a kaleidoscope of colours from the Eden-esque settings of France and the incredibly detailed costume designs. The costumes are absolutely fantastic in this show- each dress had been carefully constructed with the character in mind, the dresses are stunning and elegant, accompanied with gorgeous accessories. My only complaint, however, is that some are so far out of the period-era that it’s quite shocking- normally, I would mind, however to see someone wearing a thigh high dress was crudely out of place. The prince also wears a knitted jumper at some point that looks like it came straight out of Primark.  The costumes fit perfectly with the youthful, beautiful cast that portray the characters in the series. Almost every single character in this is beautiful- Mary and her ladies, the king and queen have an older, more seasoned beauty to them, and their sons- Sebastian (Bash) and Francis, are gorgeous too. Makes me wonder if shows such as Reign, True Blood, Vampire diaries, lost etc would be half as popular with a standard- average looking cast?

Mary shows courage in her character, is pleasant and fairly strong- not breaking down into tears though I would like a bit of character development where she is perhaps vulnerable every now and then, to make her seem more human, though I love how strong her character is. She is polite, says the right things- except her flabberghasted mutterings to Francis  in the first episode which, to be fair, most woman can understand, we’ve all been faced with a dreamboat and have said equally confusing and embarrassing things.

Mostly historically accurate with some obvious exaggeration to make the plot fast moving and interesting, however, the winner for me was the soundtrack. With songs from the Lumineers, band of skulls, crystal fighters and other popular modern music, it gave an interesting twist on this show. The soundtrack is absolutely fabulous and gives an interesting juxtaposition with the historical events.

I’d highly recommend this show due to the interesting, fast moving plot that makes you want to keep watching, with interesting twists from ‘The Plague’ to a ‘whodunnit’ of sorts, along side the use of stunning costumes and location of the set and the characters if you like a historical or period series with a modern twist to make it watchable. Comparable to both ‘Merlin’ and ‘The Tudors’.

First Impressions

I’m pretty sure many people have heard the saying ‘First impressions count.’
I was thinking about this statement today and I was wondering about the truth in it.

Firstly, lets think about places. When you first enter a house, or a pub, you are overwhelmed by trying to take everything in. The first day I moved into my flat at university, parents right behind me, I noticed three doors- one of which was extremely heavy. I remember it used all of the strength in my toothpick-like arms to open.

I met one of my future flatmates unpacking all of her belongings, her parents also with her. After introductions, I finally entered Room 8 of my flat.
It was a small room, a blank canvas. There was a bright blue carpet and plain white walls and a pin board with nothing on it. Over time, I have hovered said carpet many times, I have pinned up pictures and maps and tickets on my pin board and decorated my room, making it personal. I have got used to the door after drunken nights out stumbling home, or outside smoking. I later realised, six months down the line, that the flat I lived in looked completely different to when I first saw it that day many months ago. Everything of course has remained the same, but instead of looking at it with inexperienced eyes of a fresher, excited to move in, I now see the place where I leave- the time I dropped my soup in the corridor, the time in the kitchen where I’ve done work. And I realised- my first impression of the flat had completely changed and adapted to what I am now used to.

The same goes for people. I have met people that I liked on first introductions, only to later find out that actually, that girl is a manipulative, backstabbing bitch, or that guy is an offensive pig. I’ve met people that for some reason, I’ve disliked, only to realise later on that they are actually very decent people, and I have become friends with them. Which brings me to another saying- don’t judge a book by it’s cover.

In life, you will meet a range of people- nice people, funny, horrible, bullying, kind, all sorts. But this takes time to find out what people are. You aren’t going to meet someone and they will introduce themselves saying “Hi, I’m Carly. I’m going to bitch about you all of the time and steal your boyfriend because your friendship means noting to me” and you aren’t going to hear the guy you don’t like saying “I’m really nice, and I’ll be here for you even thought you don’t like me” because it’s not what people do. First appearances are misleading. It takes time to know another human being. So, whenever you meet a new person, remember that you would not liked to be judged on the first few words that you say, but rather your actions over time. We’re so quick as humans to jump in straight away to conclusions but I plead, take your time. human beings and complex machines. you need to decode everyone in individual ways. And you never know, if you take the effort to truly understand and analyse someone, you can make a true friend for life.

Peace out guys.

Afraid of your Passion?

There are many people in life that I see every day, that I have a pleasant conversation with or say hello and move on, and realise that I don’t actually know them. The girl that I sit next to in seminars is nice, but I don’t know what she wants to be in the future. The guy I see in the flat opposite me- does he love boxing, or wrestling? Furthering on my point made on my last blog on who we are, I decided to elaborate. I believe that we are, in fact, afraid. From childhood we are brought up to be scared of being abnormal or outspoken, we are herded like sheep into liking the same music, wearing the same clothes, and everyone that tries to escape this is deemed ‘abnormal’. I went to school without telling my friends that I liked to write, or how much I loved the idea of travelling, scouring the world and trying different cuisines and walking different sands from different parts of the world. I didn’t tell them about how falling in love really made me feel, rather than “Yeah, he’s cute, it’s going well” and I realised it’s because humans have broken communication. We’re used to blunt messages on phone screens and Facebook simplified to acronyms like ‘how r u’ and ‘kl, cy l8er’. I think it’s mad. My point is- from many of my experiences as a teenager, people are embarrassed to be passionate about things. It was like an unspoken rule that when you didn’t care, you were automatically cool. I remember a girl once telling me about how she made a happy playlist on her iPod, and certain songs made her realise how warm the sun was or how elevated she felt and how her day was brightened, with great enthusiasm, only to turn red when the other girls stared at her weirdly and continuing talking about X Factor or Eastenders. I found that people keep their passions sometimes hidden within them, like a tiny secret that only they know- which is strange. Some people obviously shout about their passions from the rooftops, or take them up as careers. But there are a multitude of people that are scared of the reaction they get when they talk about how panting makes them feel- the satisfaction of blending the creamy colours together and watching them darken and adapt. Scared of how people will look at them when they explain the thrill of standing on a stage, with jittery, clammy hands and eyes on them as their heart beats fast until they finish performing, feeling an elevation. I want to tell people that I love the feeling of walking on warm sand, something strangely comforting to me, whilst looking out at the sea- one of my favourite things on earth. I have decided from now on, I am going to be open and descriptive about what I love. So what, if they don’t like reading, or writing fanfiction, or cooking? It’s your passion. It’s what makes you happy- not for other people to judge. That goes for the less conventional activities too! I am going to tell people not only what I watched last night on TV, or what I had for dinner- but something that excites me, that I want to do. Something that will make them learn a little bit more about the real me. And you should too.

Who are you?

Many situations will arise in your life in which you have to shortly summarise who you are. An example is the introductory ‘name games’ at school or university where you sheepishly have to say your name, where you live and something about yourself. Recently, when I was faced with such an awkward and unpleasant task, I could find anything to say. It wasn’t, or course, that I had no personality or was the human equivalent of water, but that I cannot be summarised into a sentence. And neither can you. How can I possible say that I’m a writer, a feminist, a dreamer, a wisher, a lover and a fighter? How can I express the contrasting qualities of my being- I love being strong, and independent, yet I Sometimes like being shy and innocent. Sometimes I can dominate a room with talking and telling stories and captivating people, other times I like to sit and daydream, the conversations flowing past me unnoticed. I can’t express some of the deepest philosophical thoughts that I’ve had in my life or how my heart fluttered when I fell in love or how the events in my life have changed me. I know that no one will truly ever know me as well as I know myself. Sure, they may know you’re favourite colour, or what genre films you like, but you are the only person that will ever be a constant in your life. They weren’t there when you took your first steps, had your first kiss, when you embarrassed yourself and laughed and cried and went through life. It’s extremely important to remember that everyone is a human being with a life- a past and a future, and what you see is definitely not what you get. I often wonder what people think when they see me. Sometimes we use fashion and posters and tattoos to try and express who we really are, but it’s easy to ignore that and focus on yourself. I once got in an argument with a girl and was horrible upset, until my mother reminded me that she was too. She had emotions too- it wasn’t just about me and my feelings. It’s so important in this day and age to try and be selfless- because when good things happen to you, it can change your day. Other people deserve the same. Originating back to my point on ‘who are you’ I wonder if anyone else has a problem defining who they are in simple terms? How can a few words summarize your soul, your essence, your experiences? I have come to the conclusion that it is perfectly okay that people will not know every depth of my soul. I like to keep some remains of my soul private, and I can continually change, growing day by day until the best person I can possibly be. A year ago I didn’t identify as a feminist, something which now has influenced me greatly. A year ago I didn’t know how much I loved writing, now a great passion of mine. Every day, you begin to change and evolve, so you are never really one person, just an idea that changes and grows as you continue the journey of life.

 

Getting deep, I realise, but I hope you followed my train of thought. If you’ve read this, thank you very much and please comment below, I’d love to know what you think. Bye!

The Walking Dead- Sexist or Ignorant?

With my uni work piling up next to me, I bravely tackled through with a stack of pizzas and energy drinks as I started to binge watch ‘The Walking Dead’. I absolutely love it- zombies man, cool. I haven’t been particularly invested in many programmes since Sherlock and Lost and finally, I have found one I adore. Although, I have to mention, I do have some slight problems with it. May contain spoilers guys. So Rick is our protagonist- a honest do-gooder with a family protect automatically taking the leadership role from experience as a cop. He is our hero. Introduction Shane, who acts as a surrogate hero for Rick, he also has led a group to survival. Although best friends, the two have many issues, including the fact Shane is banging Rick’s wife, Lori.
Now, as events transpire and Lori passes away, Rick begins to go a bit off the rails. He starts becoming absent and distant and it’s clear he can’t lead anyone. Thus, as of course a democracy wouldn’t work here, a leader needs to step up (Don’t get me started on this idea). Glenn is considered, as suddenly he has grow a moustache and got a girlfriend! But deep down, he’s still the little technological kid that we know and love and for one reason or another, can’t lead. Hershel is an old man, with a missing leg and acts as a Dumbledore/Gandalf figure (old man offering wisdom to young protagonist). Shanes dead now, so he can’t be a leader and Daryl has gone off so he can’t. Even Carl, the little boy of about 9/10?? is considered, but obviously he’s a little too young and growing a bit brutal! I watched with anticipation with each episode, before realising, is not any of these episodes is a woman considered for a leadership role. The women have some interesting traits between them- Carols transformation and motherly comforting contrasted with Michonne’s steely, fierce nature. Maggie’s gone from farmer girl to strong independent woman in just a couple of episodes! Andrea, is by far my favourite in the show. Growing stronger after the death of her sister, she decided to start learning how to use a gun and is pretty fucking badass with it. However, after she started dating the governor who is revealed to be the bad guy, she seems more annoying as she doesn’t pick a side and is clearly being blindsided by her ‘love’. However, she would make a pretty good leader. She’s kind, she knows how to talk to people and calm them down, she’s organised and has good ideas, is savvy and clever and strong. Anyway, before I go off on one, I just want to address why these woman are never considered for the leadership role for the group. Sure, they are confident, strong women but not once does any suggest that Maggie or Andrea lead. Now, I’m not saying that the Walking Dead are completely sexist and I’ll never watch the show again. But, I do hope that they will introduce a few headstrong, courageous woman. Examples include Kahlan from Legend of the Seeker, Kate from Lost, pretty much any cast member of Orange is the new black, Morgana from Merlin, Cersei and Dany (Kahleesi) from Game of thrones. If you guys have ideas on why this is, or what you think, feel free to comment below.

TOP DATE IDEAS

Date Ideas

Whether you’re desperately trying to think of a first day to impress a crush, or if you just want an exciting change to spend time with your loved one, there are many different ideas out there! I’ve compiled a list of just a few things I think would be good as dates.

  1. The ‘Night in’. One of the most popular date ideas due to the lack of effort and planning. Invite the significant other over to eat pizza and watch films. However, go that extra mile by doing simple things such as cleaning your room. There’s nothing nicer than walking into my boyfriends bedroom to find freshly washed sheets, a hovered floor and a few candles or fairy-light just making it extra romantic.
  2. The meal and movie. I believe I have come up with the perfect solution to this very common first date. Eating a meal with someone you don’t know for a first date can be unbelievably awkward. You’re trying to enjoy your meal whilst talking or sitting in uncomfortable silence trying to think of what to say. However, if you just go to a movie, there’s not much time for talking and it doesn’t really seem like a date. However, if you combine the two, you can talk about the film during dinner if you can’t think of any other questions and use that as a basis for getting to know the other person.
  3. Drinks. Ah, alcohol. The best friend and worst enemy of dating. There is a thin line between a couple of drinks to relax you and lower your inhibitions, and being paralytic on the floor with the guy/girl embarrassed calling for help. I always find pubs an extremely social place to hang out, and sometimes it’s nice to have a bit of dutch courage. However, learn from my mistakes. I was so nervous about going back to my boyfriends house, that I ended up drinking so much that he had to carry me back to his whilst I was singing, yelling, dancing (all very badly). He then proceeded to check on me several times whilst I was bent over the toilet puking my guts up, eyes closed, blindly kicking thin air to try and get him out of the bathroom. Great.
  4. A party. Could be yours, theirs, or a friends. I’d be wary of this, because some people don’t count parties as proper dates. There’s a lot of people around and loud music and lots of drinking, but if you’re scared of being completely alone with them if it might be awkward, then this could be the date for you. You could go together or leave together for extra time with them, or just spend time with them there. It gives you a chance to meet their friends and vice versa. And, parties are the number one place where if you want to get a little ation, it’s going to happen. The hazy, smokey air filled with teenage hormones, a little bit of alcohol in your system and an empty room with just the buzz of speakers from downstairs causes a lot of smooching that may not happen if you’re sitting in a restaurant or public place. Make sure you/they are not too drunk and if it’s one of the first dates, make sure you don’t regret it if you sleep together, killing the relationship before it begins and probably getting a reputation.
  5. Shopping! ENTER WITH CAUTION. Shopping will most likely not be pleasant for guys. And, you don’t want to appear a stingy bastard but you don’t want to blow your entire savings in one day. I’d recommend a little market or somewhere like the lanes in Brighton- there’s a lot of cheap stuff. You could go in bookstores, discussing your favourites, and try secretly to buy her something she admired and produce it later. You could go to a nice coffee shop and people watch, or mess about trying on hats/scarves etc. Girls love being spoiled, and remember you don’t want to always give her cheap things, but thoughtful gifts are the best. Just make sure if you do this, she ain’t a golddigger.
  6. The ‘cooking’ date. So, maybe you don’t want to go to a restaurant? Maybe you want to stay in but still do something fun? Cooking is an extremely good way to get close to the other person. You have to work as a team to produce something delicious or hilarious. If it’s December, a gingerbread house would be lovely. The middle of summer, making cocktails and a simple dinner would suffice. Cooking gives you a chance to play around, to laugh when he’s put too much water in the mix or to smear a dusting of flour on her nose. If you’re getting to know each other it’s very relaxed and fun and if you’re a couple it’s the same, and you get extra bonding time. You could even make it a regular thing, swapping houses and recipes each time.
  7. London/Major city. Living half an hour away from London, a very fun date is to just go out and explore. You can go on a bar crawl, or go to the embankment, see all the different acts and costumes of the workers. You can go see Big ben, or the London Eyes or even go on it! London/ major cities are fun, bustling places that will create a really happy environment for the couple of you to be in. I went on a date there starting off with drinks, burritos from a little stall then sitting in the park reading to each other. It was a extremely nice day.
  8. Picnic. Something so simple yet elegant. And there’s several way to make an ordinary picnic special. Guys, listen up. Firstly, pick a day that’s not raining. Even if its cold, you can bundle up in coats, but if it’s raining, just no. It won’t be like a romantic film, it will be miserable and muddy. First, pick the place. Try and get a nice park that’s not filled with a bunch of chavs drinking lambrini and smoking weed, it really ruins the effect. Lay out a blanket so she doesn’t ruin her outfit that I’m sure she will have spent hours picking out. You get extra points if you know some of her favourite foods (easy to ask in normal conversations) because she will be so delighted you remembered. Get a selection of little sweet treats, cute sandwiches and sweets, and beverages for both of you. From little cartons of orange juice to a nice bottle of wine, picnics are perfect. You will get extra, extra, extra brownie points if you do it at sunset and have fairy lights(a recurring item that girls love) wrapped round a tree and soft, romantic music playing.
  1. The Romantic scenery. My boyfriend and I decided to go to Seaford, which is a lovely little place filled with cliffs overlooking the sea and beautiful beaches. We had quite a hike to get up there so it’s more of a couples date rather than a first date (you don’t want to see each other panting, sweating and red outside of the bedroom in natural light- it’s not pretty). As we’re both smokers, it was a little hard but let me tell you, it was worth it. Even in December, the sea was a really calming place to be with someone you love, and sitting on a cliff surrounded by nature is indescribably, really. It’s really an unforgettable date, so if it is a first date and you really want to impress her, I’d suggest something outside that looks stunning. Even a hill that has a beautiful sunset will do. Just make sure it’s not too remote for a first date or she may think you’re going to kill her.

Anyway, that’s nine ideas of different dates. Let me know your favourites, your experiences or even a few more ideas, I’m happy to hear them! Good luck dating! x

IMG_2375.JPG

IMG_3940.JPG

IMG_4658.JPG

IMG_3997.JPG