Culture and the Media
The Writing Subject
Barthes, R. (1977). The Death of the Author. In: Image-Music-Text. Heath, S. (trans.). London: Fontana, pp. 142-48. Retrieved 21 November 2006 from here, Howard, R. (trans.).

In this short, dense essay, Roland Barthes argues that the meaning of a text is not to be found where we might ordinarily seek it, in the author’s intentions. Rather, he suggests that, for a number of reasons, writing itself—the text—replaces the authority of the author. This ‘death’ of the author has repercussions for those subjects who read and write texts.

Further Reading

Aarseth, E. J. (1997). Cybertext: Perspectives on Ergodic Literature. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press. The birth of the reader in interactive fiction.

Austin, J. L. (1975). How To Do Things With Words. 2nd ed. Urmson, J.O. and Sbisà, M. (eds.). Oxford: Clarendon. Includes a discussion of performatives, as mentioned by Barthes (1977, pp. 145-46).

Balzac, H. (2005). Sarrasine. Bell, C. et al., trans. Project Gutenberg. Retrieved 22 November 2006 from here. Balzac's short story, first published in 1830, to which Barthes refers in the opening paragraph of 'Death of the Author'. The story is also the subject of Barthes' much longer essay S/Z.

Barthes, R. (1975). The Pleasure of the Text. Miller, R., trans. New York: Hill and Wang. In this short but difficult book Barthes discusses two different kinds of pleasure that can be had from a text: plaisir (the 'readerly' aspect of the text) and jouissance (the 'writerly' text).

Barthes, R. (1977). Image-Music-Text. Heath, S., trans. London: Fontana. A selection of short essays by Barthes on photography, cinema, and the relationship between images, sound, and text.

Barthes, R. (1979). From Work to Text. In: Textual Strategies: Perspectives in Post-Structuralist Criticism. Harari, J. V. (ed). Ithaca: Cornell University Press, pp. 73-81. A difficult essay, in which Barthes outlines the difference between the "work" and the "text" by means of seven propositions.

Barthes, R. (1982). A Barthes Reader. Sontag, S. (ed.). New York: Hill and Wang. A large collection of essays and extracts from Barthes' oeuvre.

Barthes, R. (1990). S/Z: An Essay. Miller, R., trans. Oxford: Basil Blackwell. Barthes' close, careful analysis of Balzac's short story Sarrasine. Difficult.

Bennett, A. (2005). The Author. London: Routledge. An account of different conceptions of 'the author' and its significant in critical theory.

Biriotti, M. and Miller, N. (eds) (1994). What Is An Author? Manchester: Manchester University Press. A collection of essays examining the role and place of the author following Barthes' influential proclamation.

Burgin, V. (1980). Seeing Sense. Artforum XVIII (February), pp. 62-65. Reprinted in: Davis, H. and Walton, P. (eds) (1983). Language, Image, Media. Oxford: Basil Blackwell, pp. 226-44. Reprinted in: Burgin, V. (1986). The End of Art Theory: Criticism and Postmodernity. London: Macmillan, pp. 51-70. Burgin applies Barthes' approach to photography, effectively producing a 'death of the photographer'.

Burke, S. (2008). The Death and Return of the Author: Criticism and Subjectivity in Barthes, Foucault, and Derrida. 3rd ed. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. A comprehensive and somewhat critical account of the notion of the death of the author.

Culler, J. (1983). Barthes. Glasgow: Fontana. A short, relatively accessible introduction to Barthes' work.

Eco, U. (1979). The Role of the Reader: Explorations in the Semiotics of Texts. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press. Nine essays discussing 'open' and 'closed' texts, which invite or discourage the reader's involvement.

Fish, S. (1980). Is There a Text in This Class? The Authority of Interpretive Communities. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. In this collection of essays Fish argues that the interpretation of a text depends on the reader's interpretive community.

Foucault, M. (1991). What is an Author? In: Rabinow, P. (ed.) The Foucault Reader: An Introduction to Foucault's Thought. London: Penguin, pp. 101-20. Foucault's response to Barthes' 'The Death of the Author'.

Freund, E. (1987). The Return of the Reader: Reader-Response Criticism. London: Methuen. Freund addresses the 'reader-response' approach to literary criticism.

Hix, H. L. (1990). Morte d'Author: An Autopsy. Philadelphia: Temple University Press. Starting from Barthes' essay, Hix looks in detail at just what an author is.

Lamarque, P. (1990). The Death of the Author: An Analytical Autopsy. British Journal of Aesthetics 30.4 (Oct): 319-31. An assessment of Barthes' and Foucault's essays from the perspective of analytic philosopy.

Richards, I. A. 1961. How to Read a Page: A Course in Effective Readings with an Introduction to a Hundred Great Words. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul. The opening chapters discuss the ambiguities of writing and interpretive process of reading.

Rylance, R. (1994). Roland Barthes. London: Harvester Wheatsheaf, 1994. An introduction to Barthes' work.

Tompkins, J. P. (ed.) (1981). Reader-Response Criticism: From Formalism to Post-Structuralism. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press. A collection of essays on 'reader-response' criticism.

Wimsatt, W. K. and Beardsley, M. C. (1970). The Intentional Fallacy. In: Wimsatt, W. K. (1970). The Verbal Icon: Studies in the meaning of poetry. London: Methuen, pp. 3-39. A classic text, originally published in 1946, which argues against the necessity of taking into account the author's intention. A pdf copy is available here.