literary theory: structuralism - Mr. Robertson's Bunker

In the 1960s, this approach to studying
literature called Structuralism became
popular. The Swiss linguist, Ferdinand de
Saussure (the ‘father’ of modern linguistics),
influenced this theory through his
examination of language as a system of
__________________, called semiology.
According to Saussure, a sign (a linguistic
experience) consists of two parts: a signifier
and a signified.
__________________ - the word or group of
__________________ - the concept or
meaning associated with that signifier
 For example, people know when they see a stop
sign (signifier) it means they must stop (signified).
Structuralists believe that if readers do not
understand the __________________, they
may misinterpret or misread a text.
Furthermore, Structuralists do not focus on
the overall meaning of a text, but rather on
the __________________
__________________of a text.
This theory does focus on the author’s intent,
and it does focus on an __________________
interpretation without clouding the text with
a subjective or emotional interpretation.
It is difficult to know who controls the
__________________ of a text and what
happens if readers don’t agree with each other
when interpreting the signs in a text.
 Who clarifies these misinterpretations?
 Also, there are negatives when a reader only
looks at a linguistic structure and is not
permitted to have an
__________________attachment to a text.
 Finally this theory is __________open to
different __________________ provided by the
Use these questions to respond to an assigned text
from the student anthology:
1. What are five key signifiers in this text that if you did not
know what they signified, you would not understand the
2. For the fist of five signifiers from question 1, write down
what each signified.
3. If you did not know what one of the signifiers signified,
where would you go to learn this information?
4. What historical information or information about the
author did you need to know in order to understand the
meaning of the signifiers?
At midnight the café was crowded. By some
chance the little table at which I sat had escaped
the eye of incomers, and two vacant chairs at it
extended their arms with venal hospitality to the
influx of patrons. And then a cosmopolite sat in
one of them, and I was glad, for I held a theory
that since Adam no true citizen of the world has
existed. We hear of them, and we see foreign
labels on much luggage, hut we find travelers
instead of cosmopolites.
 (0. Henry. A cosmopolite in a café)
Eight o’clock in the morning. Miss Ada Moss
lay in a black iron bedstead, staring up at the
ceiling. Her room, a Bloomsbury top-floor
back, smelled of soot and face powder and
the paper of fried potatoes she brought in for
supper the night before. ‘Oh, dear’, thought
Miss Moon, ‘I am cold. I wonder why it is that
I always wake up cold in the mornings now...’
 (Katherine Mansfield, Pictures1)
These days, when people emigrate, it is not so
much in search of sunshine, or food, or even
servants. It is fairly safe to say that the family
bound for Australia, or wherever it may be, has
in its mind a vision of a nice house, or a flat, with
maybe a bit of garden. I don’t know how things
were a hundred or fifty years ago. It seems from
books, that the colonizers and adventurers went
sailing off to a new fine life, a new country...
 (Doris Lessing, ‘A Home for the Highland Cattle’)
‘And where’s Mr. Campbell?’ Charlie asked.
‘Gone to Switzerland. Mr. Campbell’s a pretty sick
man, Mr. Wale.’
 ‘I’m sorry to hear that. And George Hardt?’ Charlie
 ‘Back in America, gone to work. And where is the
Snow Bird?’
 ‘He was in here last week. Anyway, his friend, Mr.
Schaeffer is in Paris.’
 Two familiar names from the long list of a year and a
half ago. Charlie scribbled an address in his notebook
and tore out the page.
 ‘If you see Mr. Schaeffer, give him this. It’s my brotherin-law’s address. I haven’t settled on a hotel yet.’
 He was not really disappointed to find Paris was so
 (Scott Fitzgerald, ‘Babylon revisited’;
A message came from the rescue party, who
straightened up and leaned on their spades in
the rubble. The policeman said to the crowd:
‘Everyone keep quiet for five minutes. No
talking, please. They’re trying to hear where
he is.’
 (V.5. Pritchert, ‘The voice’)