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.
Table of Contents
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
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.