Monday, April 2, 2012

Claude Levi-Strauss – The Structural Study of Myth – summary, review and analysis

Claude Levi-Strauss – The Structural Study of Myth – summary, review and analysis - part 1 - part 2 - part 3 - part 4

One of the most influential works in anthropology and structural analysis is "The Structural Study of Myth" published by Clause Levi-Strauss in the 1955. Levi-Strauss' "The Structural Study of Myth" is a programmatic article that discusses the manner in which anthropology should approach the study of myths. Levi-Strauss uses some examples in "The Structural Study of Myth" to illustrate his structural model of myth analysis, but his article is first and foremost a guide to analyzing mythologies.

At the opening of "The Structural Study of Myth" Levi-Strauss discusses an alleged paradox in myths: on the one hand myths seem arbitrary in that that they do not abide by any logic and anything can happen in a myth. On the other hand, Levi-Strauss notes that many different cultures present similar myths, a fact which does not sit well with the seemingly arbitrary nature of myths.

According to Levi-Strauss, it is this contradiction that points the way in the direction of the warranted methodology for the study of myth. While content varies in myth, both across cultures and across times, structure remains the same and stays the same in different cultures and times. According to Levi-Strauss, the "deep structure" of the myth should be the object of interest for anthropologists and the study of myth. What Levi-Strauss is concerned with is not the content of even the structure of a single myth, but rather the underlying structure which exists in groups of myths and even all myths.

The basic premise of Levi-Strauss' "The Structural Study of Myth" is that myth is like language, or rather is language. Myth is not only conveyed by language, it also functions like language in the manner described by de- Saussure in The Nature of the Linguistic Sign and his differentiation between "langue" and "parole". According to Levi-Strauss a myth also has its langue which is the synchronous structure which enables the specific parole of a certain myth. While details may vary from myth to myth, the structure remains the same.

Suggested reading:



Claude Levi-Strauss – The Structural Study of Myth – summary, review and analysis - part 1 - part 2 - part 3 - part 4   

2 comments:

  1. On the other hand, Levi-Strauss notes that many different cultures present similar myths,
    thesis titles

    ReplyDelete
  2. Please rectify the spelling of Claude which has been published as Clause in the second sentence of the opening para.
    Thank you.

    ReplyDelete