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Related: 20th century - Jacques Derrida - meaning - Structuralism - Post-structuralism - theory

The term deconstruction was coined by French philosopher Jacques Derrida in the 1960s and is used in contemporary humanities and social sciences to denote a philosophy that deals with the ways that meaning is constructed and understood by writers, texts, and readers. One way of understanding the term is that it involves discovering, recognizing, and understanding the underlying — and unspoken and implicit — assumptions, ideas, and frameworks that form the basis for thought and belief. It has various shades of meaning in different areas of study and discussion, and is, by its very nature, difficult to define without depending on "un-deconstructed" concepts. [Apr 2006]


Deconstruction is a term in philosophy and literary criticism most closely associated with the work of Jacques Derrida, although the term does not originate in Derrida in a strict sense. Perhaps the two most formative influences on deconstruction are the work of Martin Heidegger and Sigmund Freud. Derrida's earliest work was a series of essays printed in the early 1960s which were collected into the book L'écriture et la difference (Writing and Difference), which appeared in 1967 with two monographs, De la grammatologie (Of Grammatology) and La voix et la phénomène (Speech and Phenomena). These works (in particular the essays "Force and Signification," "Cogito and the History of Madness," and "Structure, Sign, and Play in the Discourse of the Human Sciences") included a major re-evaluation of the structuralist movement then dominant in French academe and may be considered poststructuralism avant la lettre.

As Derrida explained in his "Letter to a Japanese Friend" (Derrida and Differance, eds. Robert Bernasconi and David Wood) the French word "déconstruction" was his attempt both to translate and re-appropriate for his own ends the Heideggerian terms 'Destruktion' and 'Abbau' via a word from the French language, the varied senses of which seemed consistent with his requirements. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deconstruction/Draft [Oct 2005]

Jacques Derrida's reception in the United States

As early as 1968 Derrida lectured in the United States of America and formed a number of relationships which led to visiting appointments at American universities including Johns Hopkins, Yale University, and University of California, Irvine. It is often accepted that Derrida's influence was greatest in America, whereas in France Derrida was never granted any formal position of the greatest prestige. Derrida's early association with Paul de Man, established in 1968, led to the latter's consideration as the leading practioner of "American deconstruction". De Man's student Gayatri Spivak helped provide early exposure of Derrida's work to English-language readers. Derrida collaborated closely with his translators, many of whom went on to be prominent commentators and interlocutors, including Samuel Weber, Peggy Kamuf, Geoffrey Bennington, and Avital Ronell. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deconstruction/Draft [Oct 2005]

How to Deconstruct Almost Anything: My Postmodern Adventure, June 1993,

This is the story of one computer professional's explorations in the world of postmodern literary criticism. I'm a working software engineer, not a student nor an academic nor a person with any real background in the humanities. Consequently, I've approached the whole subject with a somewhat different frame of mind than perhaps people in the field are accustomed to. Being a vulgar engineer I'm allowed to break a lot of the rules that people in the humanities usually have to play by, since nobody expects an engineer to be literate. Ha. Anyway, here is my tale. --Chip Morningstar How To Deconstruct Almost Anything: My Postmodern Adventure, June 1993, http://www.fudco.com/chip/deconstr.html [Jun 2004]

The Test Drive (2005) - Avital Ronell

The Test Drive (2005) - Avital Ronell [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

Avital Ronell is Professor and Chair of German and Professor of Comparative Literature, New York University, as well as a member of the faculty of the European Graduate School. She is a literary critic, feminist, and philosopher, perhaps best known as the "black lady" of deconstruction. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Avital_Ronell [Jan 2006]

See also: deconstruction - USA - Germany - Jacques Derrida

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