Structuralism and Text Analysis

Structuralism and Text Analysis



Structuralism and Text Analysis

The Death of the Author is a 1967 critical essay written by Roland Barthes. In the essay, Barthes criticizes the traditional method of reading and analyzing text, which relies on the personal aspects of the author’s identity. In the traditional method, readers and listeners tend to focus more on the author’s political views, religion, psychology, ethnicity, historical context and personal attributes (Gallop, 2011, p. 45). This approach forces the author to take full or sole responsibility of the success or failure of his or her work. In some cases, the traditional approach leads to biasness during interpretation of the text. This is what Barthes refers to as the death of the author. Barthes took a structuralism approach in his work. His work about the death of the author influences the way readers think about text. As he argues, readers should give more attention to the text itself instead of the author’s background (Masterson, 2010, p. 14). This increases the ability of the reader to capture the impressions, feelings, humors and passions of the author.

Cook and Corrigan also took a structuralism approach in their article about The Turn of the Screw. The Turn of the Screw is a book written in 1898 by Henry James (Renaux, 2009, p. 10). They argue that the uncertainty and ambiguity in The Turn of the Screw is an intentional writing strategy. They demonstrate that James manipulates the point of view of the narrator in order to develop a structurally-embedded ambiguity (Renaux, 2009, p. 11). They pinpoint various locations in the book where James uses language that creates ambiguity. Thus, Cook and Corrigan demonstrate that James applies the linguistic principles of structuralism which state that in order to understand text, the reader needs to understand the different linguistic units contained in it (Koslow, 2008, p. 27). The article by Cook and Corrigan has influenced my own reading of the text. I have understood the importance of making sure that I understand the linguistic units contained in the text since they influence the ability to understand the whole text.


Gallop, J. (2011). The Deaths of the Author: Reading and Writing in Time. Duke University


Koslow, A. (2008). A Structuralist Theory of Logic. Cambridge University PressMasterson, A. (2010). Death of the Author. Sidney: HarperCollins Publishers

Renaux, S. (2009). The Turn of the Screw: A Semiotic Reading.