Benedict Ruth and Cultural Anthropology

American cultural anthropologist who developed what is known as the configurational approach to anthropology, exploring the way in which the diverse institutions, activities and traits of a given culture are integrated into a patterned whole (or Gestalt). Patterns of Culture (1935) is Benedict Ruth’s (1887-1948) best known work, and indeed one of the most widely… Read More Benedict Ruth and Cultural Anthropology

Key Theories of Friedrich Nietzsche

German philosopher whose work has exerted an important influence upon a wide range of philosophical, literary, cultural and political movements in the twentieth century. Nietzsche (1844-1900) was born near the city of Leipzig, attended the famous Pforta School and subsequently studied at the universities of Bonn and Leipzig. At Leipzig he studied classical philosophy and… Read More Key Theories of Friedrich Nietzsche

Key Concepts of Georges Bataille

French philosopher, novelist, poet and essayist. Georges Bataille‘s (1897-1962) work is antisystematic and hence defies summary, but a number of important themes predominate within it. These themes include an obsessive concern with the erotic, myth, sacrifice, the nature of excess, profanity, heterogeneity and social transgression. Bataille’s writings are also marked by an engagement with the… Read More Key Concepts of Georges Bataille

Key Theories of Michel Foucault

Over three decades after his death, Michel Foucault’s (1920–1984) legacy continues to impact upon the humanities. Key phrases and concepts drawn from Foucault’s historical work now form part of the everyday language of criticism and analysis. Foucault’s texts continue to resonate with contemporary readers, and this resonance can be misunderstood in a chronological survey of his… Read More Key Theories of Michel Foucault

Interpretive Communities: A Brief Note

Unlike Wolfgang Iser who analyses individual acts of reading, Stanley Fish situates the reading process within a broader institutional perspective. In Is There a Text in the Class? (1980), Fish proposes that competent readers form part of “interpretive communities”, consisting of members who share “interpretive strategies” or “set of community assumptions” of reading a text so… Read More Interpretive Communities: A Brief Note

Foucault’s Influence on Postmodern Thought

  Michel Foucault, best known for his critical studies of social institutions, such as psychiatry, medicine, the human sciences, and the prison systems as well as for his work on the history of human sexuality, has been tremendously influential on postmodern thought, especially through his writings on power, knowledge, and discourse. Overthrowing the Enlightenment ideal… Read More Foucault’s Influence on Postmodern Thought

Existentialist Movement in Literature

Existentialism is a term applied to the work of a number of philosophers since the 19th century who, despite large differences in their positions, generally focused on the condition of human existence, and an individual’s emotions, actions, responsibilities, and thoughts, or the meaning or purpose of life. Existential philosophers often focused more on what is… Read More Existentialist Movement in Literature