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Poststructuralism: A Very Short Introduction

3.81  ·  Rating details ·  757 ratings  ·  70 reviews
Poststructuralism changes the way we understand the relations between human beings, their culture, and the world. Following a brief account of the historical relationship between structuralism and poststructuralism, this Very Short Introduction traces the key arguments that have led poststructuralists to challenge traditional theories of language and culture. While the ...more
Paperback, 128 pages
Published 2002 by Oxford University Press
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Deniz Cem Önduygu
"Is the author talking about linguistics now? Or politics? Or metaphysics? Oh wait, it's popular culture. No, it's ethics! Or is it psychoanalysis? Art theory? Anthropology? Or just literary criticism?"

Normally I love multi-tasking authors and theories-of-everything, but when I go through the above in just two pages, I know there's a problem there. And yet this is exactly what I feel when I read poststructuralism-related authors. (No, most of them don't like to be called "poststructuralist".)
Ahmad Sharabiani
Poststructuralism: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions #73), Catherine Belsey

Poststructuralism changes the way we understand the relations between human beings, their culture, and the world. Following a brief account of the historical relationship between structuralism and poststructuralism, this Very Short Introduction traces the key arguments that have led poststructuralists to challenge traditional theories of language and culture. While the author discusses such well-known
Dec 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
succinct and to the point, without the use of extra-difficult diction or over-complicated explanations.
a remarkable book in the series.
Jan 26, 2013 rated it really liked it
For me, this book did what it said on the tin. I've skirted around PS in its different forms for a while now, when dabbling in semiotics and critical theory etc, and really wanted to know a little more about 'what it's all about' without burdening myself with a loaded textbook.

It's not an easy subject. I don't believe anyone who says they find it easy. It challenges on quite a fundamental level a lot of the structures and common ideas on society and language. This book barely skims the surface.
Morgan Blackledge
Mar 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
Recent events have reinvigorated my interest in the sociocultural factors that impact our sense of well-being.

The quality and character of our national discourse has abruptly changed, and the psychological impact it has had on nearly everyone I encounter is profound.

When the dominant cultural discourse is more reflective of ones personal world view, and when the national practices and policies are progressing in the direction of ones values, and in the service of ones interests, the feeling is
May 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: philosophy, the-arts
It is difficult to do a short introduction on poststructuralism but this very short introduction is better than some of the other subjects in the series I have read, and much better than the godawful introduction to postmodernism Oxford inexplicably allowed. One of the problems with this subject is it assumes you know something about a number of other subjects before you even read it, like feminism, psychoanalysis, Marxism, literary criticism etc. etc., but despite the fact that the author ...more
Useless shitty crap!
Dec 03, 2019 rated it it was ok
Devoid of coherent structure, organization of ideas, contextual understanding, and conceptual connections, this is either the work of a really bad writer/communicator or a total Straussian genius inserting a meta-commentary about post-structuralism within a work on post-structuralism. It is after all the writing that writes. If I am to believe Barthes, that distinction is anyway null and void, so perhaps best to ignore it altogether. I do have a much more nuanced understanding of ...more
Marta D'Agord
Mar 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing
In five chapters the author presents us the multiple post structuralism theory. From Saussure to Lyotard, including Levi-Strauss, Althusser, Foucault, Barthes, Derrida, Lacan and Zizek. Sex, Art, Politics, Literature and Ethics are some of the depicted themes. Lewis Carroll's dialogue between Alice and Humpty Dumpty and the case of Abel's gender changing confronts the idea of meaning as given in advance. After poststructuralism, meanings are not given, but can be changed or deconstructed. Post ...more
Joe Cox
Sep 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An interesting read, very accessible.

This accessibility is likely the result of the books presentation of a historical development of the field of post-structuralism, this is very much to the books credit; as I definitely see from this book the merits of poststructuralisms' concepts and claims, especially situated within its' historical context.

That said, as you might predict from the title (A very short introduction), the book is constrained to a brief tour of the early days of this field of
M. Ashraf
Dec 27, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: vsi
Very short introduction #73
I did not get it, it was very confusing and kept jumping to different points from metaphysics to arts to language to movies to science.
The chapter between Structuralism and Post-structuralism did not illuminate that much.
This book is not for me, I think it needed more background on the subject thus failing in being a very short introduction in my opinion!
Richard McIsaac
Aug 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
I came at this book with very (very) little idea of what Poststructuralism was. The book was a tough start: This introduction almost needs its own introduction. However, once I grasped the book's flow I went with it. I feel I came away with a fairly good grasp of the main ideas and plenty of references for further reading, which is exactly what I wanted.
Clarence Boddicker
Aug 03, 2019 rated it it was ok
Informative, but not the most functional "introduction". I feel there is a high level of assumed knowledge from the reader, leaving the information locked behind gates of jargon. Examples and analogies tend to ramble and meander around feeling more like the author talking to themselves trying to work out what to say. Regardless of these faults, a fascinating read.
Jun 27, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: research, class-prep
Looking for other possibilities for the graduate level intro to critical theory course, I teach, I check this out. Very short is accurate. This isn't nearly detailed enough. However, it would be fine for an undergraduate class.
Roz  Milner
Jun 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
Does what is says: offers a crash course in post structuralism, with chapters on thinkers like Derrida, Žižek, Lacan and more, and puts complex ideas into relatively simple language. With a nice sense of humour to boot. Recommended
Phil J
Jul 17, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I honestly found this a difficult book to understand, even though it was written as an introductory guide. I do want to try and increase my understanding of the ideas presented here, at some point, by reading other texts by different authors.
Feb 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
The ideas presented are clear and brief.
Nigel Bamber
Apr 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
Catherine writes very clearly and accessibly. She provides a whole new set of lenses to allow you to view the world through. Thought provoking.
Asser Mattar
May 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
Very useful
Raul Alonzo Jr.
Jul 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
Great, short intro to a complex subject. Will need to pick up more books from this series.
May 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Mind expanding stuff.
Bry Willis
May 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
A very short but well-done introduction to Post-structuralism. I listened to the audio version. The content and the presentment were fine.
Tylor Lovins
Jun 25, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: philosophy
Catherine Belsey writes lucidly, in this introduction to poststructuralism. She elucidates the works of Saussure, Derrida, Foucault, and Lacan, among others. She spells out very clearly what she means by the poststructuralist tradition when she writes, “The history of poststructuralism is the story of the way Saussure’s ideas were taken up by later generations, especially in France, and particularly after the Second World War, when the history of National Socialism, and of French collaboration ...more
David Roberts
Nov 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing
The book I read to research this post was Post Structuralism A Very Short Introduction by Catherine Belsey which is an excellent book which I bought from kindle. This art movement features strongly in both art and philosophy writings & indeed the person who created this was the philosopher Derrida. Interestingly he was Algerian but taught at university in France so was exposed to other cultures. Post Structuralism is about what transcends all cultures, an example is Greta Garbo the actresses ...more
Sam Law
Jan 01, 2012 rated it liked it
I wanted to read this book to help me build a framework to understand the vague outlines of post-structuralism which I can hopefully fill in later as I read the actual theorist. The book starts with Saussure and a brief summary of structuralism. From there it proceeds to give brief summaries of a whole range of theorist:
Althusser, Barthes, Derrida, Foucault, Kristeva, Lacan, Levi-strauss, Lyotard and even Zizek.

There was a heavy emphasis on Psychoanalysis and Lit theory which was disappointing
Draco3seven Crawdady
Belsey, does a decent overview tying relationships together, but is rather weak in the end... i.e. she talks about how Derrida was trying to develop a post-structural ethics... but then says nothing about how they would function, other than that they would not appeal to God (continually pathetic explanations for sweeping claims fill this book)... at another point she talks about going beyond "metaphysics", but seems not understand the meaning and impossibility of that very statement. of course ...more
Riley Haas
Dec 15, 2016 rated it liked it
"Most of the time she succeeds in conveying these ideas to a lay audience but it doesn't always work. There are moments when she cannot (or does not, or will not) explain what connection there is between this idea and that. Some of the ideas feel like they pop out of nowhere, as if this were excerpts from a larger work, or smaller ones pasted together. Like the was majority of posties, she cannot provide a convincing argument for why the recognition of values as (mostly) non-absolute ...more
Kirk Johnson
Jul 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing
wandering aimlessly through the library stacks, god pointed this book out to me, as i had no idea what postructuralism was, it just sounded kind of cool by the name. turns out it has a great deal to do with burroughs' theory on word viruses, it's just that catherine belsey sounds like an engaging academic and burroughs sounds like an engaging madman. it also highlighted the theory behind many of the crazy things that were going on back in my day in academia. a too fascinating read, i may have ...more
Joseph Sverker
I can see why some people think that this book is too much over the place with its examples and that it tries to do too much and, therefore, achieves little. However, I think that Belsey does a good job in introducing poststructuralism. And if the examples is diverse it depends on poststructuralism more than any failings of the book. I think she explain well how language, and Saussure, is essential for understanding what poststructuralism is about. Once one realizes that language really ...more
Sue Lyle
Dec 08, 2013 rated it liked it
This introduction to post-structuralism starts with the structuralism of Saussure and therefore with linguistics. The focus is on post structuralism in literature and art but not politics and sociology or history. It is therefore focused on cultural studies rather than philosophy or the social sciences. poststructuralism can be a way of looking at the world in a number of disciplines and I would have expected this to be reflection in a book that claims to be an introduction. Nevertheless a ...more
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Catherine Belsey is currently Research Professor at Swansea University and formerly Distinguished Research Professor at Cardiff University. Best known for her pioneering book, Critical Practice (Methuen, 1980), Catherine Belsey has an international reputation as a deft and sophisticated critical theorist and subtle and eloquent critic of literature, particularly of Renaissance texts. Her main area ...more