Deconstruction and Heart of Darkness

Part of the Case Studies in Contemporary Criticism book series (CSICC)


Deconstruction has a reputation for being the most complex and forbidding of contemporary critical approaches to literature, but in fact almost all of us have, at one time, either deconstructed a text or badly wanted to deconstruct one. Sometimes when we hear a lecturer effectively marshal evidence to show that a book means primarily one thing, we long to interrupt and ask what he or she would make of other, conveniently overlooked passages that seem to contradict the lecturer’s thesis. Sometimes, after reading a provocative critical article that almost convinces us that a familiar work means the opposite of what we assumed it meant, we may wish to make an equally convincing case for our former reading of the text. We may not think that the poem or novel in question better supports our interpretation, but we may recognize that the text can be used to support both readings. And sometimes we simply want to make that point: texts can be used to support seemingly irreconcilable positions.


Literary Text Figurative Language Binary Opposition Oral Genre Vain Attempt 
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Deconstruction: A Selected Bibliography

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Works by de Man, Derrida, and Miller

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Essays on Deconstruction and Poststructuralism

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Deconstructive and Poststructuralist Approaches to Conrad and Heart of Darkness

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The New Historicism: Further Reading

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  2. Cox, Jeffrey N., and Larry J. Reynolds, eds. New Historical Literary Study. Princeton: Princeton UP, 1993.Google Scholar
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  5. Lindenberger, Herbert. The History in Literature: On Value, Genre, Institutions. New York: Columbia UP, 1990.Google Scholar
  6. Lindenberger, Herbert. “Toward a New History in Literary Study.” Profession: Selected Articles from the Bulletins of the Association of Departments of English and the Association of the Departments of Foreign Languages. New York: MLA, 1984. 16–23.Google Scholar
  7. Liu, Alan. “The Power of Formalism: The New Historicism.” English Literary History 56 (1989): 721–71.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. McGann, Jerome. The Beauty of Inflections: Literary Investigations in Historical Method and Theory. Oxford: Clarendon-Oxford UP, 1985.Google Scholar
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The New Historicism: Influential Examples

  1. Bercovitch, Sacvan. The Rites of Assent: Transformations in the Symbolic Construction of America. New York: Routledge, 1993.Google Scholar
  2. Brown, Gillian. Domestic Individualism: Imagining Self in Nineteenth-Century America. Berkeley: U of California P, 1990.Google Scholar
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  4. Dollimore, Jonathan, and Alan Sinfield, eds. Political Shakespeare: New Essays in Cultural Materialism. Manchester, Eng.: Manchester UP, 1985. This volume occupies the borderline between new historicist and cultural criticism. See especially the essays by Dollimore, Greenblatt, and Tennenhouse.Google Scholar
  5. Gallagher, Catherine. The Industrial Reformation of English Fiction. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1985.Google Scholar
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Foucault and His Influence

  1. Foucault, Michel. The Archaeology of Knowledge. Trans. A.M. Sheridan Smith. New York: Harper, 1972.Google Scholar
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Other Writers and Works of Interest to New Historicist Critics

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New Historicist (and Recent Historical) Approaches to Heart of Darkness

  1. Brantlinger, Patrick. “Heart of Darkness: Anti-Imperialism, Racism, or Impressionism?” Criticism 27 (1985): 363–85.Google Scholar
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  3. Hawkins, Hunt. “Conrad and the Psychology of Colonialism.” Conrad Revisited: Essays for the Eighties. University: U of Alabama P, 1985.Google Scholar
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  5. Hawkins, Hunt. “Joseph Conrad, Roger Casement, and the Congo Reform Movement.” Journal of Modern Literature 9 (1981–82): 65–80.Google Scholar
  6. Humphries, Reynold. “The Discourse of Colonialism: Its Meaning and Relevance for Conrad’s Fiction.” Conradiana 21 (1989): 107–33.Google Scholar
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Copyright information

© Bedford Books of St. Martin’s Press 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of MiamiUSA

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