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History of Structuralism I

Volume 1

1998
Author:

François Dosse
Translated by Deborah Glassman

History of Structuralism I

The first comprehensive history of one of the most influential intellectual movements of the twentieth century.

The ideas of the French intellectuals who propounded structuralism and poststructuralism have had a profound impact on disciplines ranging from literary theory to sociology, from anthropology to philosophy, from history to psychoanalysis. A long-awaited translation, this two-volume set examines the thinkers who made up the movement, providing a fascinating elucidation of a central aspect of postwar intellectual history.

Reads like a good novel. Once you pick it up, it is hard to put Dosse’s History down.

Postmodern Culture

Structuralism has had a profound impact on disciplines ranging from literary theory to sociology, from anthropology to philosophy, from history to psychoanalysis. François Dosse tells the story of structuralism from its beginnings in postwar Paris to its culmination as a movement that would reconfigure French intellectual life and reverberate throughout the Western world. This first volume of his study, The Rising Sign, 1945–1966, cogently maps the dizzying array of personalities and ideas of the early structuralist movement, paving the way for later developments.

History of Structuralism I

François Dosse is the author of Empire of Meaning: The Humanization of the Social Sciences, also published by the University of Minnesota Press.

Deborah Glassman is director of the Paris Center for Critical Studies and is the author of Marguerite Duras: Fascinating Vision and Narrative Cure.

History of Structuralism I

Reads like a good novel. Once you pick it up, it is hard to put Dosse’s History down.

Postmodern Culture

This is a comprehensive history of what Dosse frames as the unprecedented rise and fall of an intellectual movement that transformed the way we consider human society.

Choice

Chronicles with superb documentation the development of the structuralist movement as it was propelled by such forces as Claude Lévi-Strauss, Jacques Lacan, Michel Foucault, and many other French social scientists and humanists.

Library Journal

Dosse’s work is exceptional in its pursuit of an honest and relevant archaeology that not only clarifies the past but offers lessons for the future.

Libération

Excellent. . . . Dosse reminds us that not only was Structuralism an intellectual event of the sixties, it was also the cultural coup d’état that both put an end to the reign of Sartre and existentialism and inaugurated the rise of the humanities.

Le Figaro

The most striking aspect of Dosse’s project is what Clément (1996: 8) justly calls its ‘monumental’ nature, the sheer comprehensiveness and encyclopaedic character of the nearly 1000-page undertaking. Dosse brings together and meticulously dissects a bewildering number of strands of thought which loosely formed the structuralist edifice; the analysis of key thinkers who enjoy a lesser renown in the English-speaking world (Benveniste, Canguilhem, Dumézil, Greimas, etc.) is particularly useful. Hence, biographical, historical and theoretical dimensions are impressively woven together into a whole that avoids a banal dictionary format or facile psychologism.

Thesis Eleven

Dosse’s History of Structuralism is intellectual history at its best. Dosse tells the story of how a new generation of young Parisian intellectuals, profoundly influenced by the structuralist anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss, and by psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan, first challenged the intellectual hegemony of Sartre in the late 1950s and early ‘60s, and how structuralism came to displace a philosophical discourse in which the autonomous subject shaped his or her own world. Those looking for a clear and lucid guide through the maze of structuralist and post-structuralist theories and ideas, as well as the broader cultural forces that have shaped them, will do well to read these two impressive volumes.

Bridges