Roland Barthes's 1967 essay, "The Death of the Author," argues against the traditional practice of incorporating the intentions and biographical context of an author into textual interpretation because of the resultant limitations imposed on a text. Hailing "the birth of the reader," Barthes posits a new abstract notion of the reader as the conceptual space containing all the text's possible meanings. The essay has become one of the most cited works in literary criticism and is a key text for any reader approaching reader response theory.
Laura Seymour has a BA in English Literature, an M.Phil in Renaissance Literature, and a PhD in Shakespeare Studies. She has published various book chapters on cognition and early modern literature. She is not affiliated with any institution.
Ways in to the text Who was Roland Barthes? What does The Death of the Author say? Why does The Death of the 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