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French thinkers, such as Lacan, Althusser, Foucault and Derrida, have been widely perceived as theorists of the linguistic turn. Yet, the linguistic and semiotic traditions which have informed the theoretical imagination of these theorists so decisively have hardly been accounted for. By presenting enunciative pragmatics, this book presents an approach to written texts which asks how subjects are constructed in language. As a ‘French’ variety of pragmatics, this strand analyzes how written academic texts are contextualized with respect to who speaks. The heart of this book comprises exemplary analyses of five textual fragments of Lacan, Althusser, Foucault, Derrida and Sollers, all written around 1966 when the controversy over structuralism was at its height. Through analyzing the polyphonic construction of subjectivity in these texts, this monograph asks how academic texts are used in a world where one constantly needs to define one’s position vis-à-vis others. This monograph addresses higher-level students, researchers and practitioners within discourse analysis, pragmatics, linguistics and semiotics, as well as all those interested in analysis of the social production of meaning. Key words: discourse analysis, pragmatics, linguistics, polyphony, intellectual/theoretical/academic discourse, scientific communication, structuralism in France, Jacques Lacan, Louis Althusser, Michel Foucault, Jacques Derrida, Tel Quel
1 Introduction: Poststructuralism and enunciative pragmatics
Poststructuralist theorists from France, such as Jacques Lacan, Louis Althusser, Michel Foucault, Jacques Derrida and Philippe Sollers, are known for their ‘antihumanist’ epistemologies and the linguistic turn they represent in the social sciences and humanities. Yet, the linguistic and semiotic traditions themselves, which have so decisively stimulated the imagination of the interdisciplinary theoretical debate, are hardly known outside French linguistics. Against this background, this book asks how to analyse intellectual and academic discourse with the tools of enunciative pragmatics. Thus, Poststructuralist Discourse Analysis delineates an approach to the discursive construction of subject positions through written texts and their utterances.
2 A history of discourse analysis in France
This chapter gives a systematic overview of past and current tendencies in French discourse analysis. Starting from theoretical pioneers, such as Michel Pêcheux and Michel Foucault, it traces the evolution of discourse analysis as a linguistic subfield in France. Structuralist models of language have been critically interrogated by enunciative-pragmatic approaches to language in use (énonciation) which have met with lively resonance since the 1980s. In this chapter, the reader will learn about the rich tradition of French enunciative pragmatics, which asks how utterances organize the many voices of those speaking in discourse. The chapter presents the analytical tools of enunciative pragmatics, notably indexicality, polyphony and the preconstruct, which account for the ways texts are contextualized.
3 A methodology of discourse analysis
The third chapter reflects on the methodological question of how to analyze a discourse. It asks how the analytical tools of enunciative pragmatics can be used to account for the discourse about structuralism among French intellectuals around 1970. The chapter outlines a discourse analytical research design and discusses how to select the utterances to be investigated in more detail. Special emphasis is placed on the actions of the reader, who needs to contextualize utterances by constructing the subject positions of discourse. Five textual excerpts from Lacan, Althusser, Foucault, Derrida and Sollers reveal how theoretical texts are contextualized.
4 Analyzing intellectual discourse: Variations on the critique of humanism The heart of this book comprises exemplary analyses of five textual fragments of Lacan, Althusser, Foucault, Derrida and Sollers, all written around 1966, when the controversy over structuralism was at its height. By analyzing the polyphonic construction of subjectivity in these texts, this chapter asks how academic texts are used in a world where one constantly needs to define one’s position vis-à-vis others. Through fine-grained analyses of these excerpts, one can trace the subtle play of theoretical distinctions in the dialogic organization of texts which mobilize the reader’s knowledge about the contexts in which they originated.
5 Conclusion: The subject of discourse The final chapter relates the enunciative-pragmatic approach to discourse to the broader epistemological question of the subject in the social sciences and humanities. In order to account for the construction of the subject through texts, a three-floor model of subjectivity is delineated. On the lowest level, the reader needs to deal with a multitude of voices which turn into more or less stable subject positions on higher levels. Thus, to enter a discourse means occupying and stabilizing subject positions vis-à-vis others. The chapter concludes with a critical reflection on the subject and with a plea to take into consideration the symbolic practices of the participants of theoretical discourse when they read, speak or write.
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