Geneva School

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Geneva School


a school of structural linguistics based directly on the teachings of F. de Saussure’s Course in General Linguistics. During the early years of the Geneva school, which first emerged in 1927, its leading spokesmen were the Swiss scholars C. Bally and A. Sechehaye, who had collabo-rated with Saussure and published his Course. Second-generation members of the school were the Swiss scholars S. Kartsevskii, H. Frei, and R. Godel.

Among the basic questions with which almost all the representatives of the Geneva school were concerned was the problem of linguistic signs in relation to Saussure’s views on the role of identity and distinctness in a language system. The problems of language and speech (langue and parole) and of the virtual and actual in human speech were also studied by the Geneva school. Saussure’s disciples were also concerned with problems of individual stylistics and the interrelation-ship between psychology, logic, and linguistics. Since 1941 the Cahiers F. de Saussure (Notebooks of F. de Saussure) have been issued nonperiodically by the Geneva school.


Zvegintsev, V. A. Istoriia iazykoznaniia XIX i XX vv. v ocherkakh i izvlecheniiakh, 3rd ed., part 2. Moscow, 1965.
Kartsevskii, S. O. Kurs povtoritel’noi grammatiki russkogo iazyka. Moscow, 1928.
Bally, C. Obshchaia lingvistika i voprosy frantsuzskogo iazyka. Introduction by R. A. Budagov. Moscow, 1955. (Translated from French.)
Bally, C. Frantsuzskaia stilistika. Moscow, 1951. (Translated from French.)
Sechehaye, A. “L’Ecole genevoise de linguistique generate.” Indogermanische Forschungen, 1927, vol. 44.
Godel, R. “L’Ecole saussurienne de Genève.”Trends in European and American Linguistics, 1930-1960. Utrecht-Antwerp, 1961.


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This understanding of language end literary theory sets Said apart from some of his contemporaries end probably provides a basis for his critique of the phenomenological criticisms of Edmund Husserl and the Geneva School (Merleau-Ponty, Jean Rousset, Georges Poulet) as well as some of his structuralist end post structuralist criticisms.
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The approach of the Geneva School has also been called "thematic" criticism insofar as it is typified by a search for suggestive patterns of imagery or for recurrent narrative situations and by an attention to the migration of motifs across discourse and to the ways in which texts can be seen as constructing themselves as so many variations -- if often highly disguised or displaced -- of, precisely, themes.
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