Free «Structuralism and Poststructuralism read into Shelley's My Body - a Wunderkammer» Essay Sample

My Body- a Wunderkammer is Shelley Jordan’s work. It shows a text made up of different structures within it. This text is a drawing of someone’s head. This head is only shown half way; not in it entirety. It shows the face is looking sideways. The mouth is open and the tough is outside of the mouth. A notable feature of the text is the color; the body is black while the surrounding is white. The body seems to show a bit of darkness while the space surrounding the body is white or lightened. This text thus does not show the full body as the Shelley Jordan’s original work of My Body. The original text is a drawing of the whole body with different compartments or body parts. Clicking of these different parts gives the relevant story associated with it.

In order to understand the story behind Shelley’s text, the reader has to piece together the different parts of the body with the related stories. It will be upon the reader to arrange the different stories pieced together to come up with the whole story behind the text. Shelley, therefore, has a unique way of conveying her messages through the body. She uses the different parts of the body to explain to the reader what she undergoes in life. The reader can also choose the part of the body that is more interesting than the other. However, the text in context here is different in that it only shows a small part of the body. My Body- a Wunderkammer is an exploration of the body that basically explains the author’s life. this makes it an autobiography. The text does not show the eyes. It only shows the nose and the mouth with the tongue out of the mouth. The light that surrounds the image shines on the face thus illuminating it. It generally seems to be showing the journey of the author to the light.

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Structuralism into My Body- a Wunderkammer

Structuralism was a movement that came up in the 1950’s and 1960’s in France. This was an intellectual movement that mostly dealt with studying of different structures which were majorly of cultural importance. It was much used in the 20th century for study and analysis of the humanities and social sciences. The study entailed the use of concepts from areas like anthropology, linguistics, psychology, and other areas to make interpretations of the objects or structures. Structuralism was majorly based on the structural linguistic work by Ferdinand Saussure. The major argument in this theory is the fact that the only way to understand any culture is through the structure that is linguistically modeled. This theory was much important in the understanding of the texts. Application of structuralism in understanding a given text would only be done by the use of the content within the text. It emphasizes on the use of the content within it rather than depending on the external factors to explain the meaning. Interestingly, structuralists heavily

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The text My Body- a Wunderkammer by the Shelley Jordan is one that would also be analyzed by the use of structuralism. The meaning can be gotten from within the structure of the text. The object itself clearly gives the meaning of what the author may be trying to pass across. This can well be derived from the way this object is put forth. The color of the text and the way it is drawn has the ability to clearly give meaning of the object. Structuralism does not need any external objects or input in order to give meaning. The text is able to give meaning by itself, irrespective of the changes the may be effected within the text.

First and foremost, the color of the text is of paramount importance. The image seems to be in the dark and the while light seems to coming from a distance off. This is illuminating the body. This clearly shows the hope and knowledge from a distance. The author seems to be getting to light. Therefore, the exploration of the body seems to be leading her to the knowledge of what happens around. The darkness within the body is a show of lack of knowledge on what happens within the body. The exploration of the body continues to give lead to the light of the body. The author is thus on a journey to more light. The tough is out of the mouth. This feature is show of the thirst that the author has on the light. The is a show of the curiosity that exists for the operations and dynamics of the body.

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Post-culturalism theory refers to a school of thought that ignores as well as throws away the old culture by referring to it using negative connotations. The theory employs more negative terms while comparing the old culture and the new one. One outstanding characteristic of postculturalism is that it rejects the notion of change while favoring the morally neutral construct of change which, in essence, strips the attempts to gain freedom and equality. The most common terms used by theorists in the era of post-culturalism include racism, exploitation, oppression, and justice. These terms lose their moral worth once they are reduced to a given vantage point. In other words respect for pluralism override/ astride morality.

In the Shelley Jackson’s hypertext“my body – a Wunderkammer”, the stark black and white woodcut is depictions of rejecting progression which is a characteristic of postculturalism. The author would have employed various colors codes to add value to the text. The author has used ‘image map’ to separate different parts of the body. He has also provided links that leads the reader to a dig deeper into the text. Such design clearly strips the move to gain freedom and equality. The text begins with a map of words and various links to other parts of the text. A distinct feature in this text which relates closely to postculturalism is the incorporation of links within the text. Jackson’s ensures that every new screen corresponds to a specific body without reference to the former. This is also a typical characteristic of postculturalism theory which ignores and throws away the former culture. The current link being accessed is blue in color. However, as one proceeds to the successive links, the former link turns to purple which shows their irrevelance at the moment.

Postculturalism is not based on fiction though it may incorporate fictitious elements. As we observe Jackson’s text, it is very obvious that the text is nonfiction since it portrays the actual body of the author. However, it has incorporated elements of fiction some part of the content. For instance, when recounting the course of action that he had to take so as to learn drawing teeth, Jackson explains that ‘realism rest to some extent below the level of the exact copy’.

The Shelley’s My Body- a Wunderkammer’ suggests that knowledge exists in relationships and not in the actual objects. The relationships between objects can be random and situational rather than orderly and universal. In other words, the objects themselves do not have their intended effects. In postculturalism, objects are often taken from their original context and given a totally different context which is in form of juxtaposition. Shelley’s text explains that knowledge results from a negotiation between the actual world and Wunderkammer (macrocosm and microcosm respectively).


The text of body is very interesting since the author is forced to mix truth with fiction. The reader of the text can easily relate to the content. This is because the images are vivid and different texts are remixed which gives the reader a task of re-assemblying them so as to create coherency. From the text, it is clear that knowledge comprises of abstract reasoning which does not oppose matter or sensation. Shelley further insinuates that knowledge must not always follow as universal concept but rather it can also be emergent from situations and exceptions.

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