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Barthes, Roland


Subject Literature

DOI: 10.1111/b.9780631207535.1997.x


(1915–80) French critic whose constantly innovative writings were greatly influential in literary and C ultural STUDIES. From 1960 Barthes taught at the Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes in Paris, offering a seminar under the heading “Sociology of signs, symbols and representations.” In 1976 he was elected to a chair in “literary semiology” at the Collége de France. Barthes's work was wide-ranging in the topics it treated and the areas in which it was important. Individual books and articles made decisive contributions to the development of S emiology , the structural analysis of narrative, the study of specific sign systems (that of fashion, for example), the redefinition of L iterary CRITICISM, the reading of particular works or bodies of work (those of Sade, Michelet, Proust, Sollers, and numerous others, including artists and composers), the understanding of the social use and subjective experience of photographs (the list could be extended). It would be difficult to find many aspects of the contemporary C ulture that did not somewhere receive consideration in the multitude of his texts and interviews, and this underlines the extent to which Barthes filled and helped define a certain role of the intellectual crucially and critically engaged in the demonstration and questioning of the culture's given realities as systems of meaning, as implicated in processes of signification ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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