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By Der-Hwa Victoria Rau.

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Example text

If we do not recognize and seek to understand the tendency of literary studies to oscillate between extremes, the demise of deconstructive relativism followed immediately by the emergence of new monisms in cultural studies will simply be the prelude to the emergence of yet another claim for unfettered critical freedom followed by yet another for privileged contextual control. Literary Theory and Linguistic Theory As has been widely remarked, so radical were the claims of deconstruction about the instability of language and the inevitability of misreading that they invited immediate questions about the consistency between the claims of the argument and the procedures by which it was advanced.

By and large, they were more adept at theoretically distinguishing their position from that of despised monists than from that of radical skeptics. ”3 In practice, deconstructive ingenuity, like any other form of interpretive ingenuity, sought to balance its claims to freedom with the observance of certain regulative controls, but as the bulk of poststructuralist theorizing was directed against the various kinds of monistic foundationalism it attempted to transcend, it tended to underemphasize the procedures by which it sought to avoid being merely a radical relativism.

The effect of sociological and institutional forms of analysis, however, has been to present further problems for the viability of deconstruction without establishing that even this frame of reference is, in fact, wide enough to explain just what went wrong. As we have noted, the issues that emerge in institutional and sociological analysis recapitulate issues with a much longer history, a history that suggests the linguistic nature of the further frame of reference that may yet be needed. The sociological and institutional analyses have, however, established a useful point of departure.

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