The Author is Dead, Long Live the Author

During the lecture I was struck by a few of the slides, specifically:

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I found these noteworthy in how they related the concepts put forward in Roland Barthes 1967 essay titled “The Death of the Author“. In this essay which Barthes argues against traditional context-heavy interpretations of text saying that the creator and creation are unrelated and texts should be viewed as such. Personally, I find this theory to be flawed as it assumes that all people have an equal opportunity to inform themselves of relevant context (they don’t) and all texts have equal opportunity for exposure based on merit (they don’t).



In essence, it puts forward that all texts exist free of “interpretive copyright”. According to Barthes, you the reader can interpret the text however you want, the author cannot inform that as they do not control the text once it exists in any realm outside of the mind.

This does not stop authors from taking varying approaches to controlling their texts. Author Anne Rice is notoriously possessive of her books, actively seeking out people who seek to re-interpret her work through at ever-popular mode of author slaughter: fan fiction. JK Rowling meanwhile has an opposite approach, seemingly encouraging fans to kill her by endorsing any and all fan work. She, however, has since used her influence to retroactively amend the texts. It is increasingly difficult to separate Harry Potter from JK Rowlings tweets.


Rowling both proves and disproves the death of the author. Any media object can be copyrighted and protected, existing within its own bubble. However, it is impossible to truly divorce context and connotation, who didn’t go into Crimes of Grindelwald without the tweets in the back of their mind?

Jaws, as described by Cucco, is another example. While Jaws “exists” as a single media object in actuality it is far more than that. Jaws was the first blockbuster, directed by Steven Spielberg (nostalgia time), its poster is culturally omnipresent in the same way as Andy Warhol’s Marilyn Monroes.


All media is the same. Once connotation and context exist for an object it can never be separated. “Authors” (Barthes analogous term for text) are undying. That’s in part why the worry about Mickey Mouse becoming public domain seems a moot point. Mickey is intrinsically linked to Disney. Even without control of the IP Disney would profit from Mickey’s exposure.

The author is dead, long live the author.


One thought on “The Author is Dead, Long Live the Author

  1. Danielle Godden says:

    This blog post was extremely well done and very interesting. I thought it was interesting how you exemplified 2 different authors approaches to the whole ‘death of the author’ and the 2 different lights that were Shed. Honestly, at this point, I think J.K Rowling should just re-write half the Harry Potter books with all the changes she has made to it in her tweets. Furthermore, I find it intriguing that copyright is a heavily prevalent thing within today’s society, in the infamous ‘Ted Talk’ Ted talks about modern copyright e.g. Copyright strikes on YouTube. By taking the original video, sound and remixing it into something else can be good for the content in itself. In most cases, it can end up being better than the original. Just like memes if there was only one singular meme text for every meme format we would be living in an extremely dull world, where there is no room for creative development. I really enjoyed this post and it definitely made me think about this weeks topic a lot more.


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