Deconstruction and the logic of criticism
The dissertation seeks to take account of the implications of Jacques Derrida's deconstructive philosophy for literary theory and criticism through analysis of the work of non-deconstructionists theorists and critics. In particular, the dissertation deals with the attempt by much traditional Anglo-American literary theory to articulate what might be called a lq'logic of criticism' - an attempt evident in the use made by this theory of oppositions such as intrinsic/extrinsic, structural/genetic, essential/contingent, and so on. The attempt is considered with respect to three concerns of modern literary theory: organic form, authorial intention and the question of value. On the first issue, it is argued that the organicist's construal of the relation of form and content in poetry is analogous to Husserl's construal of the relation of signifier and signified in speech, and that Derrida's deconstruction of Husserl's privileging of voice provides the model for the deconstruction of organicism. In the case of intention, it is argued that modern criticism and theory has characteristically relied on a notion of the literary work as saturated by a fully conscious intention, a reliance which marks a succumbing to what Derrida calls 'the structural lure of consciousness'. Concerning the question of value, the target is the attempt to defend value by locating it as the ground, the centre, the telos or origin of the phenomenon to be accounted for. The dissertation concludes by broaching the question of the nature of a properly deconstructive literary criticism. It is argued that so-called deconstructionist criticism involves a neutralization of deconstruction, a defect which Derrida avoids in his own literary criticism.