Theory

Friday 28 July 2006 — Latest update Tuesday 19 September 2006Towards a Sociocritical Theory of the Text
by Edmond Cros

Going back to the 1960s we observe a radical reconfiguration of the idea of the text, resulting from the rapid expansion of general linguistics and literary semiology. This idea was detached from the “philosophy of truth ; it defined a “new object” that was described as a “translinguistic device”and considered as a signifying practice that never ceases to work and that is irreducible to objective signification. While retaining the theoretical concepts implicit within this idea, socio-criticism is essentially concerned with that which the text transcribes, which is to say, the modalities of incorporation of history, not at the level of content but at the level of forms. For socio-criticism, the plurality which Roland Barthes describes as being “at the heart of signifying practice from the outset, in the form of contradiction” is the product of the dynamic and dialectical process of history. It is because it incorporates history in a way that is specific to it that the text presents itself as a translinguistic device. It is these paths of complex, heterogeneous and contradictory meaning that I seek to mark out and to identify both in their nature and in their effects.