Structuralism as a field of literary studies

Keywords: structuralism, literary studies, research, analysis, system, binary, element, model.


The article deals with the problem of structuralism as a field of literary studies. Attention is drawn to the fact that the essence of structuralism in the late 50’s was expressed by its main theorist Claude Levi- Strauss. He formulated the following basic principles of the structuralist research method.

These principles defined the categories of structuralist analysis: element, system, relationship, structure, level, hierarchy, position, opposition, model. The sequence of operations of structuralist analysis depended on the following stages: «reading» of the text, its microanalysis, interpretation, decryption, and final modeling. Two methods of analysis were established: «synchronous», with the setting for immanence, and «diachronic», with a focus on historicity. Among the subjects of structuralist analysis, the common ones, usually represented in the so-called binary oppositions, were practically defined: sign – meaning, speech – language, text – context, culture – nature.

Such a juxtaposition of concepts meant the opposite of the artificial natural. The sequence of these binary categories reflects their relationship, in
which each subsequent pair includes the previous one.

American linguist R. Jacobson, insisting in a number of works on the transformation of poetics into a section of linguistics, in his studies on «poetry
of grammar and poetry of grammar» on the material of various European and some other languages explains the extent to which the analysis of poetic
structures can shed light on the functioning of grammatical form and thereby outline the emergence of a future special scientific discipline that would be of paramount importance for academic literary studies, linguistics, and school teaching.

Russian literary critic Y. Lotman argues that the view of the work of art as a model of reality with characteristic properties that allow to determine the
specifics of art. The model in art, because of the great diffusion of distinguishing features, has greater possibilities for unpredictable discoveries than the scientific model. A work of art, in Lotman’s view, is at the same time a model of two objects – the reality and personality of the author, who forms the model based on the structure of his consciousness, though the model imposes on it its structure.

The most fruitful in structuralism were attempts at a detailed interpretation of intertextual relations, binaries of different structural levels of literary texts, plot and composition.


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Author Biography

Leonid Kozubenko, Pereiaslav-Khmelnytsky Hryhorii Skovoroda State Pedagogical University

Ph. D. in Pedagogy,
Associate Professor

How to Cite
Kozubenko, L. (2020). Structuralism as a field of literary studies. Theoretical and Didactic Philology, (32), 42-48. Retrieved from