For thirty years the "death of the author" has been a familiar poststructuralist slogan in literary theory, widely understood and much debated as a dismissal of the author, a declaration of the writer's irrelevance to the readers experience. In this concise book, Jane Gallop revitalizes this hackneyed concept by considering not only the abstract theoretical death of the author but also the writer's literal death, as well as other authorial "deaths" such as obsolescence. Through bravura close readings of the influential literary theorists Roland Barthes, Jacques Derrida, Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, and Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, she shows that the death of the author is best understood as a relation to temporality, not only for the reader but especially for the writer. Gallop does not just approach the death of the author from the reader's perspective; she also reflects at length on how impending death haunts the writer. By connecting an author's theoretical, literal, and metaphoric deaths, she enables us to take a fuller measure of the moving and unsettling effects of the deaths of the author on readers and writers, and on reading and writing.
Jane Gallop is Distinguished Professor of English and Comparative Literature at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee. She is the author of several books, including Living with His Camera, Anecdotal Theory, and Feminist Accused of Sexual Harassment, all also published by Duke University Press.
Acknowledgments vii Introduction 1 Part I. The Friendly Return of the Author 27 1. The Author Is Dead but I Desire the Author 29 2. The Ethics of Indecency 55 Part II. If I Were a Writer and Dead 85 3. The Queer Temporality of Writing 87 4. The Persistent and Vanishing Present 115 Notes 145 Works Cited 163 Index 167