The University of Tokyo Graduate
School of Arts and Sciences

Language and Information Sciences


The University of Tokyo

Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

Department of Language and Information Sciences

3-8-1, Komaba, Meguroku, Tokyo 153-8902 Japan

TEL: 81-3-5454-6376

FAX: 81-3-5454-4329

Studies of Contemporary Theories

It is often said that in the twentieth century, language rather than ideas or consciousness came to the fore. With Saussurean linguistics and general semiology, structuralism changed the paradigm of thought, influencing anthropology, history, philosophy and psychoanalysis. Also in the strand of analytical philosophy that started with Wittgenstein, the so-called "linguistic turn" brought about significant conceptual and methodological innovations. Contemporary theories are deeply indebted to these shifts in perspective.

In our department, we principally deal with the linguistic, semiological and textual aspects of contemporary theories. Needless to say, theories are relevant to literature -- for example we think of Deleuze on Kafka and Proust, Derrida on Mallarmé, Joyce, Kafka, Bataille and Blanchot, Benjamin on Baudelaire, or Bakhtin on Dostoevski's poetics. This literary relevance is inevitable because theories explore the intricate functions and modes of language, exemplified in literary texts. They go across the boundary between philosophy and literature to grasp any text in its intertextual relations. Interacting also with psychoanalysis and semiology of various kinds, they may ultimately lead to a profound change of our intellectual framework.

In our department, students are encouraged to confront actual problems in contemporary theories, reflecting on their own experiences of reading and thinking. They will be invited to explore a rich field involving anthropology, cross-cultural studies, religious sociology and ethics in addition to those disciplines mentioned above.