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Pomo generatorEdit

Removed link to an essay created by a "pomo generator." Either the link is meant to add to the article by pointing to the common accusation that poststructuralist prose is so obscure that it can be, humorously, mimicked exactly by a simple algorithm. Or it's meant to dupe the foolish into believing it's a genuine piece of poststructuralist writing. If the former, then the link should be marked as such and the reader should also be directed to the Sokal hoax. The latter is vandalism in this context. (talk) 06:31, 15 January 2011 (UTC)

Between two campsEdit

At the end of the section "between two camps" the sentences do not make sense. I lack the understanding to put them together. (talk) 00:09, 11 March 2011 (UTC)R. Huxley 10-03-11

Merge French Theory into this article ? VOTE.Edit

French Theory is only an American and then French name for a part of post-structuralist Fr. philosophers (see for instance : here. I suggest this article to be merged into [[Post-structuralism] (here)]. This merge would provide French Theory the context it lacks to be fully understood. NB : fr:WP pages about these two movements are exactly inverted. (A big one for FT and a small for P-S.)

Your opinion ?

  1. Support. --Hedgehog in the bell (click to ring) 09:08, 1 June 2012 (UTC) (Proposer)

I redirected it here. The supposed article was only 2 sentences. There was nothing there to merge Bhny (talk) 05:50, 6 October 2012 (UTC)

"Post-structuralism" refers to... what, again?Edit

Bhny's recent revision calls attention to some problems with the definition we have here. Bhny removes a claim that post-structuralism is about denying the possibility of scientifically studying human beings. Bhny's decision makes sense given the article as it stands. Considering the history of the field, however, I think we do need to deal with post-structuralism as something to do with the "human sciences".

I don't think that post-structuralism is exclusively or even primarily about privileging reader over author—if anything, that relationship has more to do with post*modernism*, which I think I still think is different. I'd like us to work on a more positive definition of "post-structuralism", one which might point towards post-structuralism as a creative *expansion* of structuralism.

Also, I find the first sentence as it is—

Post-structuralism is a label formulated by American academics to denote the heterogeneous works of a series of French intellectuals who came to international prominence in the 1960s and '70s.

—to be a little dismissive. I do agree that American academics had a major role in popularizing (and maybe even reifying) "post-structuralism", but I'm not sure that this is the best first sentence. The entire rest of the article belies the implication that post-structuralism is a class so heterogeneous that we cannot define it independently from its status as an academic trend.

The term "structuralism" has clear meaning, revolving around the basic idea that culture is made of structures, and that elements of these structure gain value in relation to each other. These elements & relations can exist on many different levels. In linguistics, for example, you have letters, phonemes, and words. And you can scale up to ideas, myths, etc., in anthropology. These two fields were the major areas of "stucturalism" in France. Perhaps structuralism was never have been as popular as post-structuralism—I'm not sure! At any rate, post-structuralism must involve a critique of these "human sciences".

We should keep in mind here that "structuralism" is really not the major or dominant way of studying humans—structuralism is a late-breaking innovation in the human sciences. So is the post-structuralist critique primarily a critique of structuralism? Or is it a critique of the human sciences, inspired by structuralism but loosening some of the rules? Or is it something else: a new form of philosophical discourse that talks about anything it wants to talk about, using vocabulary from the human sciences, structuralism in particular, while being critical of these?

The article is most likely to be useful (and distinct from "French Theory", which is clearly moreso a cultural phenomenon in American academia) if we tighten the definition and become more clear about the relationship of individual authors to the idea.

  • I would say that Deleuze & Guattari are consummately post-structuralist—their Capitalism and Schizophrenia collaboration uses a non-stop flow of structuralist authors and concepts, while at the same time reworking these concepts, analyzing them locally, and arguing against totalization.
  • Derrida must also be included, as the lead popularizer (with his 1966 essay/lecture "Structure, Sign & Play")
  • Foucault denied the label of "post-structuralist", and we shouldn't discount that fact. The key text would be The Order of Things (1966), which I think is arguably structuralist, not too much post about it. "Structuralist history." The question on the table is still: what causes structures to change across history? But Foucault doesn't really say; he moreso analyzes the structures themselves. Now, I haven't read The Archaeology of Knowledge, so maybe that book reflects Foucault's post-structuralist turn. I'm not sure that there's clear evidence of post-structuralism from any of Foucault's historical works.
  • Jean Baudrillard would definitely be included, because he examines "cultural structures" but with lots of (weird) spin. So, we're getting a structuralist matrix where 'things gain value in relation to each other', but we're also getting backstory on the history of the structure, the role of media used to convey it, and how the structure functions to affect or not affect people's everyday lives under capitalism.
  • Julia Kristeva also seems to fit quite well, using analyses that border on "structuralist", no "post", but add dimensions of meaning and causality from outside the structure (this is based on my readings of Kristeva on 'abjection' and 'femininity'... not sure I'm qualified to comment on her corpus as a whole...)
  • Judith Butler, definitely. (And I think she also belies the idea that post-structuralism much be French.) Gender Trouble is analysis of the structure of gender (again, sticking to structuralist definition of elements/relations) with analysis that questions the boundaries of the structure itself (arguing that "sex" is also governed by signifiers and is not pure signified).
  • Jacques Lacan is a bit of a wild-card, partly because much of his writing comes from during the "structuralist" era (before 1966). Based on what I've read it does make sense to include him, although one might make a case for no "post", or for his thought being different enough as to just be something else.

I don't know much about the other authors here. I wonder about Marshall McLuhan. And, actually Jorge Luis Borges, although the time period for him doesn't fit either. Also I'm sure there are many contemporary "post-structuralists" not represented. Another confusing issue is: has post-structuralism 'sunk in' within certain parts of the academy? And if so could we really distinguish "post-structuralists" from everyone else?

Anyway, the article needs focus and improvement. And if you're reading this, please share your thoughts; we need as many voices as possible contributing to this work. Thanks, groupuscule (talk) 04:35, 6 October 2012 (UTC)

P.S. We also have to deal with the problem where some authors (such as Derrida) call themselves post-structuralist when they use the vocabulary and ideas of structuralism, and others (such as Deleuze) prefer to interpret and redefine "structuralism" from within. (Worth reading: Deleuze's "How do we recognize structuralism?")

Gang of Four?Edit

  Fixed Bhny (talk) 23:34, 21 January 2013 (UTC)

Where it mentions a gang of four in the scholars from both movements section. It actually only mentions three individuals. No idea who the fourth individual should or shouldn't be. But it's definitely an oversite that will want correcting at some point. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:43, 21 January 2013 (UTC)


What's with the hyphen? Based on a cursory review of works referencing poststructuralism, it appears that the hyphen was used 10+ years ago, but contemporary publishing and the current NOAD don't. Has there been a discussion about this elsewhere? czar · · 08:07, 2 March 2013 (UTC)

I missed the archive page: Talk:Post-structuralism/Archive_1#Why_the_dash_in_title.3F and Talk:Post-structuralism/Archive_1#Requested_move. The scholarly ref usage numbers have shifted in favor of dropping the hyphen, and I'm suspicious of citogenesis for the opposite effect in regular search results. czar · · 08:20, 2 March 2013 (UTC)

American "academics"Edit

We should use this term only in ironic quotation marks. Academics belong to a culture, for instance European culture, Japanese culture, Indian culture. But since the very definition of the American Way of Life is the ABSENCE of culture (cf. Baudrillard, de Toqueville et. al), one should not speak of American academics, merely of American publicists or opinion multiplicators. (talk) 16:42, 25 July 2013 (UTC)

We go by what the reliable sources say. Unless your analysis is shown to be something other than original, it qualifies as fringe in terms of actual implementation. czar · · 17:25, 25 July 2013 (UTC)

Matrices (Mathematical Construct) and Post-Structural SymbologyEdit

I'm new to Wikipedia editing, so forgive me if this is the wrong section. Here is an idea...

Matrices hold some data of indefinite size. However, numbers are always changing from one snapshot to another. Does there exist a mathematical construct that defines and stores entries (ie. data) but has no "solid construct"? Consider a matrix or an equation using any symbol set to be a "solid construct". — Preceding unsigned comment added by Vektor-k (talkcontribs) 18:47, 31 July 2013 (UTC)

--Vektor-k (talk) 23:42, 31 July 2013 (UTC)

Frame Problem and Post-StructuralismEdit

Suppose the existence of an axiom(alpha). Find a frame(beta) such that a finite-state Turing machine can find a solution for every frame(beta) within time(gamma). — Preceding unsigned comment added by Vektor-k (talkcontribs) 18:53, 31 July 2013 (UTC)

0. Why do very fine-grained solutions in small symbol-sets produce very complex-dynamical structures in the entailing laws realm? For example, a simple sum-of-squares solution can produce some very advanced physics effects in the case of classical geometry (you can make a square simply by defining a point).

1. Perhaps a better question based on (0) is to ask: Why are there axioms in the first place? Are axioms mere mental content? It seems that human as well as non-human species use a set of rules to survive. A bird will always fly away from an incoming train, even if they aren't taught to... although a human child needs to learn. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Vektor-k (talkcontribs) 23:35, 31 July 2013 (UTC)

--Vektor-k (talk) 23:42, 31 July 2013 (UTC)

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Am I the only one who thinks this article contains a lot of confused technical jargon, which often barely comes together to make a coherent point, or doesn't make one at all in places?

The too-long quotation in the #Controversy section stands out as an example. I suspect that the sheer length of the Wallace quote and the lack of any secondary follow-up about it in the article may be due to the fact that neither the editor who included it nor others who have modified the article since have any idea what it means, or how to summarize it. I don't even get a clear understanding after reading that section whether "deconstructionism" is, or isn't a synonym for Post-structuralism, and that's a coin-flip. (Wallace says yes, Wikipedia's deconstructionism redirect says no.) This article should take a stand in Wikipedia's voice on the issue, or if there's a controversy about it, then it should say that.

I choke on phrases like, "the idea that presence and unity are ontologically prior to expression" and if that is an idea that is important to understanding Post-structuralism and deserves to be in the article, then we had better have some additional explanation in the section citing secondary sources explaining what it means. And if it isn't, then that phrase (and the entire quotation, I suspect) should be struck. I understand this section in the same way that I understand "Colorless green ideas sleep furiously," insofar as they both follow the rules of grammar, but after I finish reading them, I'm not quite sure what has been said. (Well, actually, in the latter case, I am pretty sure what has been said, even if it is fantastical, and raising the former to the standard of the latter would be an improvement.)

The lead is a bit better than that, inasmuch as the writing is clear, so I understand what it is saying, but it lacks a clear definition of what Post-structuralism is, which is the job of the first sentence. I get something out of the lead as far as prior influences of Post-structuralism, and situating it in time and place. I can see what Post-structuralism is "associated with", I see what its "predecessor" theory is about, I see what Post-structuralist authors don't like about the predecessor theory, I see a list of who those predecessor-theory-rejectionists are, and I see as an apparent afterthought, yet another predecessor theory that was also apparently rejected. And after reading all that, I still don't know what Post-structuralism is. That is a pretty poor foundation for trying to understand the rest of the article, which only gets more arcane, and in places descends into technobabble and gibberish.

Almost the only thing in the article that made absolutely clear sense to me upon first reading, was the Sokal quote in the #Controversy section, saying that a lot of the writing in this domain was "gibberish" and lacked intellectual rigor. I had actually heard of Sokal before, as the author of the famous hoax article produced as a protest against this trend, and published in a social science journal somewhere.

In any case, Wikipedia, as an encyclopedia, should not produce gibberish, and the article should be able to make a clear statement in the first sentence about what Post-structuralism is, with some amplification in the rest of the lead, and then go into more detail in the body. Anything that is gibberish, too vague, too technical or jargon-filled to be comprehensible by an intelligent layperson should be rewritten or removed. Sokal's goal in perpetrating his hoax was in part to defend sociology from the trendiest aspects of itself, in his words: "sloppy sociology, like sloppy science, is useless, or even counterproductive." He could well have been speaking of some Wikipedia articles in that sentence. We should heed his words, and tighten up this article significantly.

I invite any sosh-jockeys out there to at least tighten up the lead, and if someone wants to do some significant slashing-and-burning in the article, including removing of sourced material if it's incomprehensible, you won't hear any objection from me. Mathglot (talk) 21:02, 19 December 2017 (UTC)

So, how hard to read is it, Mathglot?     (amusing aside inspired by a link at WP:TECHNICAL)
Amusing/illuminating post-script:
I followed the link to the Hemingway App located at Wikipedia:Make technical articles understandable, and according to instrutions, pasted the Controversy section into the app (the whole page is editable). It returned the following analysis of the complexity of the text in that section:
  • Readability: Grade 16. Poor.
  • 2 of 18 sentences are hard to read.
  • 12 of 18 sentences are very hard to read.
The "hard to read" is probably based strictly on simple measures like length and complexity of sentence parsing, and not for the reasons explained above, but I thought it was an amusing counterpoint to the more serious topic above. Anyway, back to more serious topics...

Mathglot (talk) 22:01, 19 December 2017 (UTC)

I read through the article for the first time and while I am no expert, the prose made sense to me and the basic ideas (as I understand them) are there. I agree that the article could certainly use more development, especially in the theory section. The lead could present the basic ideas more simply and use more concrete language. The Wallace quote is huge, WP:UNDUE, and without any context, is the opposite of a good summary style. But it doesn't look like babble to me.
To address a couple of your points, post-structuralism is an approach to literary criticism that goes beyond the structuralist approach by rejecting one or more principles of structuralist theory. There are multiple ways to do this, so it is not a single unified approach; analogous to post-Newtonian physics, it is defined by what in large part by what it is not. The Wallace quote "the idea that presence and unity are ontologically prior to expression" refers to the structuralist idea that for text to have a solid meaning through structure, the author has to have a coherent and unified "self" that can produce such prose and meaning. Post-structuralism may reject that, and consider the author as a bundle of conflicting viewpoints, who produces context-dependent prose that may or may not have the meaning you think it does. The extracted meaning may also be context-dependent on the state of the reader. --Mark viking (talk) 23:50, 19 December 2017 (UTC)
Mark viking's comments are much better than the article itself! Can we use his comments as the bones of a new lede?Sbelknap (talk) 21:57, 26 April 2019 (UTC)
Thanks for working to improve this article! Please feel free to use anything I have written here, or a paraphrase, whatever works to clarify the exposition. --{{u|Mark viking}} {Talk} 19:20, 28 April 2019 (UTC)


I feel like this confusion in the article perfectly sums up how my minor studies in Rhetoric went... they're such weird abstract ideas of things.. if my professors can't teach it easily, this Wiki page editing will be a challenge! — Preceding unsigned comment added by 2601:643:8500:5FA6:5109:DFC9:D113:A61C (talk) 18:44, 27 June 2018 (UTC)


This article needs substantial revision by an expert. It seems to illustrate M. Frank's view that post-structuralism is a bad term because it can not be understood independently from structuralism. (Frank proposed the alternate term "neostructuralism.") The poststructuralism/neostructuralism discourse began with the events of May 1968 in France as (essentially) a continuation of structuralism, with an increased emphasis on the shortcomings of the concepts of linking and hierarchy.

I expect that most people who have studied (and to the extent possible, understood) structuralism, post-structuralism, critical theory, and postmodernism would agree that this article is terrible. Do other editors agree that this article would benefit from deletion of 90% of its content - boiling it down to its essence - and then starting over?Sbelknap (talk) 21:52, 26 April 2019 (UTC)

French thinkers of the 1970sEdit

The article doesn't say much about French post-structuralists of the 1970s, such as Derrida, Foucault, Lyotard, Baudrillard, and others and their influence on postmodernism, and how it spread to America (Rorty) and around the world in the 1980s. SEP and this article[1] may be helpful. Mathglot (talk) 09:58, 12 May 2019 (UTC)


  1. ^ Best, Steven; Kellner, Douglas (2001-11-02). "The Postmodern Turn in Philosophy: Theoretical Provocations and Normative Deficits". UCLA.
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