Michel Foucault's 1969 essay "What is an Author?" sidesteps the stormy arguments surrounding "intentional fallacy" and the "death of the author," offering an entirely different way of looking at texts. Foucault points out that all texts are written but not all are discussed as having "authors". So what is special about "authored" texts? And what makes an "author" different to other kinds of text-producers? From its deceptively simple titular question, Foucault's essay offers a complex argument for viewing authors and their texts as objects. A challenging, thought-provoking piece, it is one of the most influential literary essays of the twentieth century.
Dr Tim Smith-Laing took his DPhil in English literature at Merton College, Oxford, and has held positions at Jesus College, Oxford, and Sciences Po in Paris.
Ways in to the text Who was Michel Foucault? What does What Is An Author? say? Why does What Is An Author? matter? Section 1: Influences Module 1: The Author and the Historical Context Module 2: Academic Context Module 3: The Problem Module 4: The Author's Contribution Section 2: Ideas Module 5: Main Ideas Module 6: Secondary Ideas Module 7: Achievement Module 8: Place in the Author's Work Section 3: Impact Module 9: The First Responses Module 10: The Evolving Debate Module 11: Impact and Influence Today Module 12: Where Next? Glossary of Terms People Mentioned in the Text Works Cited