Full Text


Subject Literature

Period 1 - 999 CE
1000 - 1999 » 1000-1099

DOI: 10.1111/b.9780470657621.2012.x


Authorship is a phenomenon that seems to have survived in relatively pure form until the post-modern era, when, like textuality, it lost its clarity along with its innocence. When Michel Foucault asked “What is an Author?”, humanists (including Foucault himself, it turned out), took up the task of separating the author as a historical being, an individual (to use Foucault's term), from the “author-function.” The “author-function” designates the ways in which a culture and its rules of discourse constitute and regulate the statements of those who write. In “What is an Author?”, Foucault refers to the “individual” in the same uncomplicated way that, as he himself pointed out, he refers to the “author” in the Order of Things (Foucault 1977: 114–15; 1971). Every writer is in some way shaped and limited by the conditions of possibility made available to speech and writing in the writer's culture. Long before Foucault, medieval authorship was a complex phenomenon intricately entwined with institutional discourse that limited what writers were able to say. Medieval writers were extraordinarily concerned with auctores , i.e., the authors of classical and, later, of Christian texts, and with the concept of auctoritas . The author or auctor was not simply someone who wrote but someone who had become an authority. The writings of the auctor had veracity and wisdom that informed them ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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