Intrinsic Criticism and Deconstruction: Their Methods' Legacy

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Stephen R. Yarbrough, Professor and Director of Undergraduate Studies (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
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Abstract: In After the New Criticism, Frank Lentricchia claims that American deconstructive criticism is "plainly an ultimate formalism, a New Criticism denied its ontological supports and cultural goals." The view has been hotly contested. Jonathan Culler, for example, has gone so far as to ridicule it openly in his address to the May 1982 IAPL Conference. Unquestionably, at first sight the idea seems absurd that a "cognitive atheist" such as Derrida could be considered remotely similar to critics like Richards and Winters. Nevertheless, I wish to support Lentricchia's claim, although, like Culler, I cannot accept the ontological and epistemological arguments which led to it. To me, the claim makes sense only if the relationship between so-called "intrinsic criticism" and "deconstruction" is grasped in terms of their respective methodologies, rather than in terms of what they imply about the nature of art or truth. The method Derrida employs against Saussure's Course and other texts is a logical extension of intrinsic method: it is not a new method that can or should replace the old one, but an extension which, when carried out, necessarily implies ontological and epistemological conclusions which contradict those that presented themselves at the initial stopping place. If in their philosophical implications intrinsic and deconstructive theories remain irreconcilably opposed, methodologically they complement one another.

Additional Information

South Central Review 3(1): 78-89.
Language: English
Date: 1986
Frank Lentricchia, deconstructive criticism, intrinsic criticism, Derrida

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