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Poststructuralism

A school of thought that responded negatively to structuralism’s insistence on frameworks and structures as access points to “truth.” Poststructuralism, like deconstruction, emphasized the instability of meaning. While structuralism regarded language as a closed system, poststructuralism identified an inevitable gap between signifier and signified. In poststructuralism, the reader and not the writer became paramount: the author’s intended meaning, because it could never be truly known, was less important than the reader’s perceived meaning. Like other postmodern theories that interrogated cultural assumptions, poststructuralists believe in studying both the text and the systems of knowledge that produced that text. Poststructuralism is associated with many French writers and thinkers, namely Roland Barthes, Michel Foucault, and Jacques Derrida.

Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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