Is The Author Really Dead?

Is The Author Really Dead?

Barthian theory in a contemporary world.

This past semester I had begrudgingly signed up to take Literary Theory, an English major prerequisite that leaves most outsiders moaning and groaning on your behalf. At first, I too was moaning and groaning left feeling unfulfilled by the study of language, which I was sure, meant something to someone sitting in an office chair at Oxford University, picking their teeth with a folded page from a Dostoevsky piece. Point being, I didn’t see how anything I could have learned in that horrible, terrible class could have possibly come in handy when interacting with the real world. Then I met "The Death of the Author," a Barthian piece of literary theory that discusses the idea that an art is separate from its author and should be studied that way. And suddenly, Lit Theory became Lit Reality.

There are many men of history, both in art and the political sphere, that did and made amazing things for society, but not so much for those around them on a personal level. We often forget about Benjamin Franklin’s bastard children when we discuss the founding of our country. We don’t discuss the affair that J.D. Salinger had with an eighteen-year-old girl when discussing "The Catcher in the Rye." We infamously ignore the artist when discussing their art if we can; it’s difficult to rewrite years of poorly inscribed history. But as of late I fear we’ve taken a turn for the other extreme, focusing too heavily on the artist before even considering the art as an individual piece.

If we think of "The Death of the Author" as a foundation for a way that we study art which can grow and develop into a more contemporary practice, we might be able to learn more from the art we hear and see and read. The Louis C.K. allegations have resulted in the removal of any of C.K.’s projects from the headlines for the unforeseeable future. A movie, a series of performances, and no doubt what could have been another handful of shows and pieces written or directed by the man.

Let me preface this by saying that his actions were awful and unforgivable and also incredibly weird. However, to pull his pieces off of the shelves because of it seems wrong. The movie is its own movie and maybe it will be beautiful and maybe we can learn more from it than “Louis C.K. wrote this.” Maybe if first, we released it, we read it, we learned it, and then we applied it. Maybe then we would find that there’s something to be learned about Louis C.K. that we wouldn’t have known, or maybe something to be learned about how perpetuating of awful actions the way in which we let men roam this world really is.

We could think of an author’s text as the author’s own history, but it doesn’t allow the writing to be performative. That is, it doesn’t allow it to work in the present tense. It doesn’t allow text to be taken as more than something that belongs to an author in a particular time; it doesn’t allow it to grow. If we remove the writer in particular tense from a piece, we can then understand it as a whole and then maybe apply what we know about the artist to learn more about the artist and the piece. This functions so that while the author maybe isn’t dead in Barthian language, it’s a part of the piece that can be interestingly applied to a piece instead, though perhaps not the whole piece. If we disentangle the piece, if we study it instead of analyze it in direct correlation to the artist, like a code to be deciphered, we can perhaps learn more about the art and the artist.

Cover Image Credit: lukasbieri / Pixabay

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What Your Hogwarts House Says About You

Get yourself sorted and find out where you belong in the world of witchcraft and wizardry.

Sorting at Hogwarts is a big deal. Being sorted into a house is essentially being placed into a family while you are away from home learning about witchcraft and wizardry. Your house is made up of the people you will live with, go to classes with, play Quidditch with and everything in between. You basically spend 24/7 with them. Your Hogwarts house is your home away from home.

When you get sorted into a house, it is based on your personality traits. The people in your house are typically like-minded people who display the same characteristics as you.

When you’re a first year at Hogwarts, the minute you set foot in the castle you are swept into the Great Hall to have the ancient Sorting Hat placed on your head. This Sorting Hat decides which “family” you’ll be spending your seven years with.

For some, it is very obvious which house they will be in, due to certain personality traits they possess. For others, they may exemplify traits that fit a multitude of houses and are uncertain where they may end up.

To find out where you belong, you can take the official "Harry Potter" Sorting Hat quiz at For all you muggles out there, these are the characteristics that the houses possess and what your house says about you:

Gryffindor: The house of the brave, loyal, courageous, adventurous, daring and chivalrous. Those who stand up for others are typically Gryffindors. Brave-hearted is the most well-known Gryffindor characteristic, and Gryffindors are also known for having a lot of nerve.

Gryffindors are people who hold a multitude of qualities alongside the ones listed, making them a very well-rounded house. People who are Gryffindors are often people who could fit nicely into another house but choose to tell the sorting hat they want Gryffindor (there's that bravery). "Do what is right" is the motto Gryffindors go by.

Being a Gryffindor means that you're probably the adventurous and courageous friend, and you are usually known for doing what is right.

Ravenclaw: The house is known for their wisdom, intelligence, creativity, cleverness and knowledge. Those who value brains over brawn can be found here. Ravenclaws often tend to be quite quirky as well. "Do what is wise" is the motto they strive to follow.

Though Ravenclaws can be know-it-alls sometimes, they most likely do know what the wisest decision is.

If you are known for being the quirky friend, the smartest in the group or just great at making wise decisions, you're definitely a Ravenclaw.

Hufflepuff: This house values hard work, dedication, fair play, patience, and loyalty. Hufflepuff’s are known for being just and true. "Do what is nice" is their motto.

Hufflepuff is known as the “nice house” and believes strongly in sparing peoples feelings and being kind. This is not to say that Hufflepuffs aren't smart or courageous. Hufflepuffs just enjoy making others happy and tend to be more patient towards people.

If you ever find that you are too nice for your own good and cannot bear to hurt someone’s feelings, congratulations, you are a Hufflepuff.

Slytherin: This is the house of the cunning, prideful, resourceful, ambitious, intelligent, and determined. Slytherin's love to be in charge and crave leadership. "Do what is necessary" is the motto of this house.

Slytherin is a fairly well-rounded house, similar to the other houses. They are loyal to those that are loyal to them just as Gryffindors are and are intelligent as Ravenclaws.

Slytherin house as a whole is not evil, despite how many dark wizards come out of this house. That is merely based on the choices of those wizards (so if your friend is a Slytherin, don’t judge, it doesn’t mean they are mean people). Slytherins do, however, have a tendency to be arrogant or prideful. This is most likely due to the fact that everyone in Slytherin is exceedingly proud to be there.

What Hogwarts house you’re in says a lot about the person you are, the traits you possess and how you may act in some situations. But in the end, your house is really just your home that is always there for you. Always.

Cover Image Credit: Warner Bros Pictures

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Things To Do When You're So Bored All You Want To Do Is Cry

Do something artsy


Everyone has times when they have nothing to do and boredom strikes way too hard. From experience, I have found some top things to do when you literally have nothing else to do!

1. Clean

Not super fun, but will keep you busy.

2. Netflix

Find a new show to binge watch. Watched them all? Rewatch something you haven't seen in a while!

3. Shopping

Retail therapy can always keep you busy.

4. Make a home cooked meal

Spend some time in the kitchen and make something yummy! Even invite some friends.

5. Visit friends/ family

Pop in on some people you care about that you haven't seen in a while!

6. Write

Writing is something we all do and is a great way to express ourselves!

7. Exercise

Hit the gym or go for walk, do something to keep you nice and fit.

8. Volunteer

Go to an animal shelter, food bank, museums, or anywhere in your area that needs help.

9. Look for a job

If you're bored, maybe getting a part time job will keep you a little occupied. Plus it's extra money in your pocket.

10. Draw/ do something artsy

Even if you think you're a bad artist, drawing is something fun to do! You'll get better in time.

11. Join an Odyssey Team!

Writing articles through the Odyssey is an amazing experience and can always keep you busy!

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