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When I first read Roland Barthes famous essay The Death of the Author in an undergraduate unit on literary theory I never ever considered that it would play any role in the development of my emerging professional identity as a teacher of English and Literature Quite frankly at that point I considered literary theory to be unintelligible waffle and even today the thought of reading Spivak makes me shudder In the process of compiling this reflective piece what really leapt out at me in Barthes essay were the similarities between the binaries of Author-Reader and Teacher-Student In his essay Barthes critiques the traditional method of criticism whereby meaning is drawn from the intentions and biographical context of the Author Barthes 1967143 By placing the Author at the centre of the text the Author is exalted to the position ofGod and the task of criticism becomes a form of theology or worship a reverential process to decipher mystic meanings imparted by a deity to humanity Barthes 1967 144 In following on from Barthes allegory if the Author is God then surely critics and teachers of Literature are his prophets the literal mouthpiece of the Divine or a high priest acting as mediator between the divine world of the text and that of mere mortals the world of the students However Barthes tells us that a text is not a line of words releasing a single theological meaning the message of the Author-God but a multi-dimensional space in which a variety of writings none of them original blend and clash Barthes 1967 146What Barthes suggests is that meaning is not tangible and does not reside anywhere The text is not the result of one individual experience but is rather a complex multi-layered tissue of quotations Barthes 1967 145 Therefore meaning cannot be found but is created and recreated in successive interpretations by the Reader I believe this paradigm can be applied to the experience of the
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