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Deconstruction

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  • The noun deconstruction originally referred to a postmodern philosophy and literary-criticism movement that seeks to undo conventional assumptions underlying the meanings of texts. Deconstruction as a synonym of dismantlement or demolition began as a careless misappropriation of the literary term, but this use is now so widespread it must be accepted.

    Examples

    In the following examples, deconstruction is used where dismantlement or demolition (or, in the third example, dismantles) would also make sense:

    [T]hey will join in stopping the deconstruction of marriage. [Faith and Freedom]

    There has been a systematic deconstruction of the importance of fathers and fatherhood during my lifetime. [Men’s News Daily]

    Occupy Eugene Deconstructs Camp [KEZI]

    Elsewhere, deconstruction is used in critical contexts, but far removed from its original purpose. It’s often used to mean examination or close analysis (which in themselves are not the same as deconstruction in its original sense):

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    First let me address the highly touted technological aspects of the film, and then I’ll deconstruct its themes. [The Found Generation]

    [B]ut his fascinating deconstruction of the Enron failure is where it’s at. [In Praise of Olly]

    And sometimes it’s used to mean question, rebel against, make anew, or reexamine:

    [D]econstructing the late-night talk-show format … [Chicago Tribune]

    No, this movie is a deconstruction of the zombie-genre. [Patrick Chuan’s Blog]

    People seem to love using deconstruction and deconstruct for these newer purposes, so these new senses of the words are probably here to stay.

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