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What is an author? -Focault

September 22, 2009 by admin

This is my reading notes, and attemt to make sense of the text “What is an Author” by Michel Foucault

Foucault text is about the relationship between the text and the author. He is concerned with what is the (role) of the author when the text is good, bad, kills the author and so on. The text he writes is not a work but “writing […]is rather a question of creating space into witch the writing subject constantly disappears”. This is how the text has freed it self from being an expression. I think he means that the text is not just what the writer intended. And this is also connected to the dead author, the author is not very present in the work it self, and because the writing is not just an expression of the author there is now a question of what is an author. (What use is an author?)

An authors work can not be identical to everything an author has written, that’s absurd. The problem then becomes to identify what is and what is not his work. Foucault mentions that st. jerome suggest that things of a lesser quality that the best would be excluded, this is one of four ways to identify the relation between the text and author. Foucault him self makes four point to identify the author, but his points are more focused on the discourse around the author that the relation to the work alone. (p5 in the txt).

This way the author is a mark of quality.

The name of an author is also important, because the associations and connections made to the author might change.

Foucault mentions author of religious text, ‘great* authors (Shakespeare, my example), and later he ads founders of science or discursive. The last group Foucault dedicates some space to explain what they have done, i’ll sum it up with they later influenced others strongly, so that they did not just write their own text but co-wrote others text. And again the role of an author is made more complex.
But it show how the work it self is not the relevant, but the space the work creates.

Foucault want to show that discourse analyzes is very complex, and that it is time to study the mode of existence when attempting to analyze according to discourse. And this is somewho related to the idea of authenticity. Foucault want to move the focus of analysis from “who really spoke”. to more interesting things.

1 Comment »

  1. Katla says:

    Note from class: foucault thinks we need an author because finding the author locks down the possible menings. “how can one reduce…” at the end. It does not matter who the athour is as long as there is an athour, that fills the rolle “the athour” som it limits the threat from the fiction.

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