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Glossary of Literary Theory
by Greig E. Henderson and Christopher Brown


A deconstructionist term coined by Jacques Derrida to describe the necessary indeterminacy of meaning. Since any signifying system is but a system of differences without any positive terms, meaning is disseminated rather than conveyed. It disperses itself throughout the realm of différance, the realm of endless differing and deferral, of limitless free play. Meanings are thereby dispersed or disseminated among countless and contradictory alternatives, partaking of a fundamental instability. (See also Deconstruction.)

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University of Toronto
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