Deconstruction Criticism: Overviews And General Studies - Essay

M. H. Abrams (essay date spring 1977)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Abrams, M. H. “The Deconstructive Angel.” Critical Inquiry 3, no. 3 (spring 1977): 425-38.

[In the following essay, which many critics consider the strongest and most influential critique of deconstruction, Abrams points out the limitations of deconstruction in literary criticism.]

                              —If the Abysm
Could vomit forth its secrets:—but a voice
Is wanting …

—Shelley, Prometheus Unbound

We have been instructed these days to be wary of words like “origin,” “center,” and “end,” but I will venture to say that this...

(The entire section is 6356 words.)

G. Douglas Atkins (essay date fall 1980)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Atkins, G. Douglas. “J. Hillis Miller, Deconstruction, and the Recovery of Transcendence.” Notre Dame English Journal 13, no. 1 (fall 1980): 51-63.

[In the following essay, Atkins explores the charge of lack of spiritual concern leveled against deconstructionist critics, pointing out that their writings reinterpret rather than negate questions of the spiritual.]

Following publication of Charles Dickens: The World of His Novels (1958), The Disappearance of God (1963), and Poets of Reality (1965), J. Hillis Miller became known as one of the most knowledgeable and articulate spokesmen for religion in modern literature. These works, and...

(The entire section is 5562 words.)

G. Douglas Atkins (essay date 1981)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Atkins, G. Douglas. “The Sign as a Structure of Difference: Derridean Deconstruction and Some of Its Implications.” In Semiotic Themes, edited by Richard T. DeGeorge, pp. 133-47. Lawrence: University of Kansas Publications, 1981.

[In the following essay, Atkins discusses the ideas of Derrida, a leading practitioner of deconstruction, defending him from accusations of nihilism and undermining the humanistic tradition in literature.]

A major force to be reckoned with in contemporary literary criticism is Jacques Derrida. Derrida's star has risen precipitously since his participation in 1966 in a Johns Hopkins international symposium, where he took...

(The entire section is 5971 words.)

Steven E. Cole (essay date winter 1988)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Cole, Steven E. “The Dead-end of Deconstruction: Paul de Man and the Fate of Poetic Language.” Criticism 30, no. 1 (winter 1988): 91-112.

[In the following essay, Cole focuses on the critical theory of de Man, suggesting that his deconstruction of meaning in literature leads not to liberation from tradition, but to a logical dead end.]


Perhaps no contemporary theorist is more difficult to analyze than Paul de Man, although the difficulties are not precisely what his admirers have supposed. In the flood of commentary which has appeared since his death (and this is true even of Jacques Derrida's remarkable...

(The entire section is 9372 words.)

Archibald A. Hill (essay date 1988)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Hill, Archibald A. “Deconstruction and Analysis of Meaning in Literature.” In Language and Cultures: Studies in Honor of Edgar C. Palomé, edited by Mohammad Ali Jazayery and Werner Winter, pp. 279-85. Berlin, Germany: Walter de Gruyter, 1988.

[In the following essay, Hill discusses Hartman's deconstructionist interpretation of selected poems and posits that deconstructionist critics confuse textual with contextual meaning.]

As an academic who has spent a good many years in teaching both literature and linguistics, and in watching and even participating in literary and linguistic analysis, I can not help being repelled by some of the recent developments in...

(The entire section is 2513 words.)

Hent de Vries (essay date 1999)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: de Vries, Hent. “Deconstruction and America.” In Traveling Theory: France and the United States, edited by Ieme van der Poel and Sophie Bertho, pp. 72-98. Madison, N.J.: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 1999.

[In the following essay, de Vries presents an overview of issues raised by deconstruction theory as it was introduced and flourished in the United States.]

Much has changed since October 1966, when the famous conference on structuralism took place at Johns Hopkins University, introducing the work of a remarkable group of contemporary French thinkers in the United States. The conference, which featured lectures by Roland Barthes, Jacques Lacan, and...

(The entire section is 10512 words.)