Structure agency foucault what is an author

Michel Foucault: "What is an author?" - SUMMARY


Michel Foucault: "What is an author?", In: ders .: Writings on literature. Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt / Main 2003. pp. 234-270.

“What is an author?” Is a lecture that Michel Foucault gave on February 22, 1969 to the Société française de la philosophie.

In it he answers the question: What is an author? - as follows: “I very much regret that I cannot come up with a specific proposal for the debate that follows…” (p. 258) - and, strangely enough, there is actually no answer to the question of an author Michel Foucault's opinion in the entire lecture after is.

Foucault opened his lecture by stating that the author was “dead”, which he neither explained nor justified, but about whom he merely said: “All of this is known; and for some time now, literary scholarship and philosophy have taken note of this disappearance or death of the author. ”So we can note that Michel Foucault took it for granted that“ the author is dead ”or perhaps is It is also the case that this assertion was taken for granted in France in 1969.

In the course of his lecture, Foucault does not talk about what an author is, but rather what he is considered to be in the eyes of society (or in the educated discourses of scientists and intellectuals) - which is an essential difference - and tries to work out in this way what the "author discourse" is ("... that in a civilization like ours there is a certain number of discourses that have the" author "function ..." (p. 245) and what function this author discourse fulfills in society.

In this way it can be differentiated, for example, that the author was not always considered the same by society, for example by the fact that only “at the end of the 18th century and the beginning of the 19th century” “strict laws about copyrights, about relationships between authors and Publishers, about reproduction rights etc. ”(p. 246) and thereby not only the status of the author of a work but also the content of the term“ author ”has been redefined. It cannot be overlooked, however, that here, as in the rest of the lecture, Foucault is not talking about what an author is, but what society makes of an author. If one concludes - as it actually seems to be done frequently - that what an author is and what the author is considered to be by society (= how society determines what an author is) are the same , then in Foucault's remarks in this part of the lecture one can actually find the answer to the question of what an author is, but otherwise not.

From this, concrete work tasks for literary studies can be derived at the end of the lecture; For example, instead of investigating the author, one could try all of the following: "Perhaps it is time to examine discourses no longer according to their expressive value or formal transformations, but rather in terms of their modalities of existence: in the manner of their circulation, their evaluation, Their attribution, their appropriation, the discourses vary with each culture and change in each culture; the way in which they express themselves about social conditions ... ”(p. 258) (Note: You can read“ literary work ”instead of“ discourse ”, then it works.)

The conclusion of the lecture can be formulated that in this lecture Foucault does not say what an author is, but that he expresses the wish that talking about the authors (the discourse about the author) should be replaced by a discourse about the discourses and the conditions in which it came about: “One can imagine a culture in which discourses would circulate and would be received without the author function. […] One no longer heard the questions repeated for so long: “Who really spoke? Is that him too and no one else? With what credibility, what originality? And what did he express from his deepest innermost being in his discourse? ”In return you will hear others:“ What are the modes of existence of this discourse? From where was it held, how can it circulate and who can appropriate it? What are the places reserved for different subjects? Who can fill these various subject functions? ”And behind all these questions one would hardly hear more than the sound of indifference:“ What does it matter who is speaking? ”” (Pp. 259-260)

However, it remains unclear or one would like more clarification from the lecture on the question of what Michel Foucault's personal motives are to prefer the “sound of indifference” to the speech about the authors? What desire for extinction and self-extinction is at work and what reasons justify it?


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