Faculty Mentor

Dr. Jonathan Matheson, Professor

Faculty Mentor Department

Philosophy and Religious Studies

Associated Prize (or Other Information)

This paper won the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies Paper Prize


Since Roland Barthes first published his essay “Le mort de l’auteur” (“The death of the author”) in the 1960s, literary critics have reconsidered the role of the author in the interpretation of media. Barthes and others have argued that the author’s intentions matter little after a work of art is handed off for public consumption, and that art is up for interpretation with the audience playing a greater role in its meaning. Others, however, argue that the author is the ultimate authority on the meaning of their work, and that authorial intent is the most important aspect to consider when examining a piece of media. This paper seeks to resolve the conflict between authorial intent and audience interpretation. The reason we might be tempted to lean on the author for guidance, and which viewpoint we should consider in art analysis were examined. Arguments from the perspectives of both a creator and a consumer were compared. While both views have their strengths and weaknesses, one cannot neatly separate the author from the art when examining their work, and so a combination of both authorial intent and audience interpretation should be taken into consideration when analyzing a piece of media.

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Aesthetics Commons