Structuralism got its start in linguistics, but literature caught on quick. Here's the brief rundown on how this theoretical framework does its thing in the world of lit. According to the Structuralists,
You want some examples? Look no further than Shmoop. In our literature guides, we cite Christopher Booker's seven basic plot structures. This guy said that every story falls into one of seven categories or—wait for it—structures.
Shmoop mythology also gives a nod to structuralism when we apply Joseph Campbell's stages of the hero's journey to the mythological stories we analyze. But we're the first to admit—it doesn't always work.
And neither does Structuralism. As you might imagine, some of the most famous literary minds out there—Michel Foucault, Jacques Derrida, and Roland Barthes (if you're into name-dropping)—didn't love what they saw in structuralism, and they became known as the post-Structuralists. These guys thought that Structuralists ignored the whole concept of, you know, a changing history or social influence.
But that doesn't mean that we can ignore Structuralism. Standing on the shoulders of giants, you know?