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Revisiting Style in Literary and Cultural Studies

Interdisciplinary Articulations

Edited By Jasmin Herrmann, Moritz Ingwersen, Björn Sonnenberg-Schrank and Olga Ludmila Tarapata

The collected volume brings together leading scholars from a broad range of disciplines in the humanities to interrogate the productivity of style as an element of cultural expression and a parameter of cultural analysis. Despite its ubiquity in examinations of artistic singularity or postulations of epochal patterns, style remains a notoriously elusive concept. Suspicious of monolithic definitions, the contributions assembled in this volume address style from a multiplicity of methodological and conceptual angles, drawing from fields that include literary studies, film and media studies, post-structuralist philosophy, philosophy of science, and American cultural studies.

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1 Do Signs Have Styles?

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Abstract: This essay defends a new process philosophy of signs where intrinsic features of any sign are considered secondary to its effects. These effects are the consequences of the selection of components of the process sign. They are mapped by diagrams. The essay is critical of definitions of the sign according to form and in relation to an artefact. Following discussion of Derrida, Searle and examples from fashion, the sign is further defined through a characteristic set and the dynamic effects of its selection. This dynamism is then defined through number, extension and contrast. These are explained through examples from communication and a contrast drawn between questions and problems for style. This then leads to a claim about the continuity and immanence of the processes implied by signs and style. The essay continues with a critical discussion of Manfred Frank on style and a discussion of early Roland Barthes. This is followed by a critical discussion of Wittgenstein’s remarks on Buffon and of Buffon’s own writing on style. The essay closes with a consideration of the possibility of ‘Eigenstyle’ based on Hanjo Berressem’s work on Dilthey and on Eigen numbers contrasted with the thesis on signs as process.

Keywords: Process Philosophy, Signs, Semiology, Deconstruction, Meaning, Diagrams, Eigen Numbers, Manfred Frank, Wittgenstein, Buffon, Roland Barthes, Style

Before I began to type the first letter of the first word in the question for the title of this essay, I was forced into a series of choices...

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