Poststructuralism, Deconstruction, and the Novel  (Roundtable)


Comparative Literature / World Literatures (non-European Languages)

Maryann P. DiEdwardo (Lehigh University)

The novel to poststructuralists is more faithful to the metaphysics of true expression. For Derrida and Foucault, writing is abstract; and it is abstract because it is a function not of presence but of absence: the reader's absent when the writer's writing and the writer's absent when the reader's reading. For a deconstructionist, then, a writer's circumstances and intentions are indeed a part of the "context" of a text, but context imposes no real cinctures on the text's meaning because meaning in language requires cultivation of absence rather than presence, involves not the imposition but the erasure of consciousness. Derrida following Heidegger and Foucault see literary language as not a tool but an environment. A writer does not wield language; she is subsumed in it. Language speaks us; writing writes.

The Nobel Prize winner Doris Lessing is faithful to the metaphysics of true expression. Her work represents the development of the Modern Novel as a multicultural form and examines historical, cultural and societal foundations as well as the forms of social commentary. We focus on foundations of the narrative and study of The Modern Novel which encompasses multiculturalism and social Justice, assess the role of Lessing and others within the development of, and critical responses to, genres and movements. Examine connections between contemporary sociopolitical events and responses in order to construct an informed worldview.

Interpret relationships to the #MeToo to contemporary literature to develop and sustain critical and creative thinking skills, including curiosity and skepticism, to achieve ongoing engagement with moral and ethical issues.

This session focuses on the foundations of the narrative and study of the modern novel as it encompasses multiculturalism and social justice, the development of and critical responses to genres and movements, connections between contemporary sociopolitical events and novelists’ responses, all in order to construct an informed worldview.