Sunday, October 18, 2015


Hey everyone! In this post I am going to be tackling the difference between the author and the author function.

In Critical Theory, we've been looking at Michel Foucault's article What Is An Author? which addresses the concept of authorship and how/why it exists.

When it is put into simple terms, it is quite easy to understand the difference between author and author function. The author is the living, breathing human being that writes. (We are speaking of the author in the present tense, however the author may be dead. Or alive. Or they might not exist yet. See, this is where it gets a bit complicated...)

This is a picture of the author J.K. Rowling, the very talented woman who wrote the Harry Potter series. The idea for Harry Potter came to her while she was stuck on a train and she started writing the prolific story on a napkin because it was all she had at the moment.

Now, author function is a tad bit more complicated to explain. While the author is/was a real person, the author function is a concept that perseveres long after the author is dead and gone. In other words, the author function in the context of this example with J.K. Rowling is anything that makes up the body of her work. So, the seven Harry Potter books that she penned, minor yet related works (i.e. books that exist in the HP universe that she wrote and released in real life like Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and The Tales of Beedle the Bard), those horrific crime novels she wrote under a pseudonym (and for good reason).

More often than not, when someone is referring to Rowling they are referring to the author function and not the author. Perhaps if they are speaking of her personal life or her childhood, the person is referring to the author. However, usually when someone refers to Rowling (or any other author really...this example isn't limited to just rowling) they are using her proper name in a more generalized way, as if to say that Rowling is her work. As Foucault suggests, the text creates the author and not the other way around. So perhaps it is appropriate to refer to the author in relation to the works that they have created, as their authorship would be non-existent without the creation and preservation of their works.

J.K. Rowling is defined by her famous series and her legacy will live on through the books she has written. When she is long gone, Harry and his friends will continue to brighten the lives of those who embark on the journey of delving into his magical world.

until next time,

1 comment:

  1. I think this set you up well for the more in-depth paper on Foucault, which you did SUCH a great job on!


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