The foregoing chapter attempts to identify a major change in the cultural condition of art, already in process at the turn of the 17th century, a new consciousness of the literary text as a written or printed object, which was to undermine its traditional status as a transcription of experience and its author's claim to control the meaning of that transcription. This change in the status of the text and of the author can be seen not only in such auspiciously self-reflective ‘sports’ of earlier literary history but thanks to recent poststructuralist speculation, even in those pre-modern texts where the mimetic impulse and claim seem most strong. This chapter attempts to account for this latest mutation in the institution of literature. It discusses literary criticism, structuralism, semiology, poststructuralism, Marxism, and literary theory.
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