Monday, February 28, 2011


A tradition at Wabash College is Homecoming, in which the campus gets together to watch the football team play while fraternities participate in events to celebrate the school. From a structuralism standpoint of what occurs, there would be respect for tradition and an emphasis on these values would be apparent in the analysis. The freshmen of the fraternities make large Wabash banners that are viewed at the game, and students dress up as women to support the all-male concept. All of these aspects would contribute to a tradition of meaning with regard to a structuralism interpretation.

In contrast, a poststructuralist may be inclined to describe the meaning behind the competition between houses as ridiculous, as it appears visually that it’s nothing more than a football game with fraternal hazing blended in. They would view the creation of the banners and other aspects of the Homecoming program as a requirement for freshmen for pledgeship. They wouldn’t find value in fraternities exposing freshmen to these events as a way of appreciating Wabash College. There wouldn’t be much deeper interpretation of the fight song played after a Wabash touchdown, as students and alumni stand and sing the nation’s longest fight song. To students of the school it appears disrespectful of tradition to think that Homecoming is just a game. While it gives the chance for graduates to support their school on a day dedicated to them, it also represents an appreciation of Wabash’s traditions and values. A poststructuralist interpretation, however, would deny that a football game could represent the traditions of a college. They may argue that an event like this occurs every Saturday in the fall at other schools, and merely for the enjoyment of sport.


  1. Along with all of your points I think that a post-structuralist would question why there needs to be a football game for all of these events to occur. They would question the role of football in our society and why it is used to draw in alumni and Wabash supporters. This would be a great topic for post-structuralists because of the number of traditions and events that can be deeply analyzed. Not only is homecoming a tradition in itself, there are also a number of traditions that take place because of the event.

  2. A structuralist would indeed be likely to look at these traditions as signifiers of "Wabash" values, such as pride and brotherhood, but would hopefully look deeper than this. They might see the trials of the freshmen as a breaking down of individual pride in order to foster a group mentality and loyalty to their college and their fraternity. Post-structuralists, on the other hand, would reject the signification of a single sentiment, value or phenomenon by any of these events. Looking through a post-structuralist lens, I see these events (especially, for example, the drag queen competition) representing a tense co-existence between conflicting goals-- assertion of individual, masculine pride on one hand, and on the other, submission to a higher entity (most notably the fraternity) in order to gain acceptance into, develop pride for, and win honor for, their fraternities.

  3. I agree with the idea that a structuralist would view the Homecoming game as a traditional exposure of the spirit of Wabash men. However, a post structuralist would look more deeply into the tradition. They could look at it as an example of a paradox. It is an event meant to bring the campus together through exerting superiority over another school's football team. However, it also is meant for some of the internal entities of Wabash, the fraternities, to attempt to beat one another. It requires us to come together and yet remain individualistic at the same time.