Roland Barthes (1915-1980)




Background

At the time of his death, Barthes was Professor of Literary Semiology at the College de France in Paris. Ths was a title of his choosing.

During Barthes' career, his interests shifted from the general rules and constraints of the narrative to how meaning is produced in the act of reading. By breaking down the text into small units of sense, or "lexias," Barthes shows how each unit carries many different meanings simultaneously on several different levels and in different codes.

Barthes claims that "the modern scriptor is born simultaneously with the text...and every text is eternally written in the here and now." In effect, the reader enters into active participation in the production of meanings that are infinite and inexhaustable.