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The Margins of Meaning

Arguments for a Postmodern Approach to Language & Text

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Robin Melrose

The title of this book is inspired by Jacques Derrida and by his seminal work, The Margins of Philosophy. The study of meaning in the past thirty years has focused on core meaning, and largely ignored the margins of meaning, where much of the power of language is to be found. The present work seeks to shift this focus by taking a postmodern approach that sees meaning as an accretion of verbal, social, cultural and personal sign systems, with fluid boundaries that shrink or expand with each meaner.
Chapter 1 begins with a brief examination of present-day approaches to meaning, and goes on to a deconstruction of four twentieth century linguists. Chapter 2 takes as its starting point two aspects of the 20th century scientific paradigm, non-deterministic causation and relativity, and considers a number of thinkers who have worked within this paradigm. A major aim of this work is to convince students and teachers of literary theory, cultural studies and feminist theory of the validity of a linguistics of indeterminacy, so Chapter 3 focuses on an analytical approach that models indeterminacy in language, and Chapter 4 applies the model to a newspaper editorial, a Wallace Stevens' poem, and an extract from a Patrick White novel.

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Edited by Carla Risseeuw and Marlein van Raalte

The concept of friendship is more easily valued than it is described: this volume brings together reflections on its meaning and practice in a variety of social and cultural settings in history and in the present time, focusing on Asia and the Western, Euro-American world.
The extension of the group in which friendship is recognized, and degrees of intimacy (whether or not involving an erotic dimension) and genuine appreciation may vary widely. Friendship may simply include kinship bonds—solidarity being one of its more general characteristics. In various contexts of travelling, migration, and a dearth of offspring, friendship may take over roles of kinship, also in terms of care.