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Roland Barthes Presentation NTU Theatre Design


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Roland Barthes Presentation NTU Theatre Design

  2. 2. HIS LIFE <ul><li>Born on the 12th November 1915 in the town of Cherbourg in Normandy </li></ul><ul><li>Son of the naval officer Louis Barthes, who died before Roland was one, and Henriette Barthes who did not work </li></ul><ul><li>His mother, Aunt and Grandmother raised him after his father died, in the French city of Bayonne </li></ul><ul><li>In 1924 when Barthes and his mother moved to Paris, he started school at the Lycee Montaigne </li></ul><ul><li>In the time Barthes spent at the Sorbonne (1935 - 1939) he earned a license in classical letters </li></ul><ul><li>During Barthes young life he had gone from being fairly wealthy to being poor, Henriette had to work as a book binder to feed her children and sometimes had no money at all </li></ul><ul><li>Barthes also suffered from tuberculosis throughout this period and due to his ill health he failed to take important examinations, this therefore affected he academic career </li></ul>
  3. 3. HIS LIFE <ul><li>Barthes Grandmother had a lot of money but she wanted nothing to do with Henriette due to her disapproval of her first marriage. This affected Barthes as he felt resentment towards Neomie and left an imprint on him for the rest of his life </li></ul><ul><li>In September 1932 Roland entered the lower sixth in Louis-Le-Grand, he was enthused by poetry and literature </li></ul><ul><li>On May 10th 1934 Barthes is struck down with haemotysis and due to this he could not take the exam he had been working towards, the baccalaureat </li></ul><ul><li>He was sent to a Sanatorium small village called Pyrenees in the mountains to help him recover </li></ul><ul><li>In September he sat the exams he had longed to complete. He passed the exams but was sent back to Pyrenees </li></ul>
  4. 4. HIS LIFE <ul><li>After this episode he moved to Bayonne and enrolled in Sorbonne until 1939 </li></ul><ul><li>Barthes suffered from depression and after his childhood friend Philippe Rebeyrol was accepted at Ecole Normale, Barthes life long dream, he became even worse </li></ul><ul><li>In June Barthes passed his fourth part of his degree in Greek, Latin, French Literature and the history of philosophy. However he still needed to pass exams in grammar and philology to become a teacher </li></ul><ul><li>In September 1939 England declared war with Germany but Barthes was declared unfit for the army. Instead he became a literary teacher but was paid the salary of a teacher without a university degree </li></ul>
  5. 5. HIS LIFE <ul><li>Roland began to write again but with the end of the war he was not able to continue his post as a teacher, instead he became a study and recreational supervisor at the Lycee Voltaire and the Lycee Carnot </li></ul><ul><li>At the same time he was studying for the final part of his degree the philology exam and also working towards a postgraduate diploma in Greek tragedy </li></ul><ul><li>Barthes took on a lot of work and was still trying to finish his studying 6 years after his baccalaureat instead of the normal 4 </li></ul><ul><li>In 1946 Barthes was asked to write an article for the literary section in a Milan newspaper though he debated this for a while he ended up writing an article on Camus; a famous author and philosopher of the time often associated with existentialism </li></ul>
  6. 6. HIS LIFE <ul><li>At the end of January that year Barthes was told he would be leaving the sanatorium to return to Paris, he did not in fact leave until February and by this time he was almost cured of tuberculosis </li></ul><ul><li>He moved back to Rue Servandoni with his mother and brother </li></ul><ul><li>By this point in Barthes life it was clear he was becoming interested in Marxism </li></ul><ul><li>He spent the summer of that year reuniting with old friends and spent his time in a post-cure therapy at a sanatorium in Neufmoutiers-en-Brie </li></ul><ul><li>After he had left the sanatorium he started his writing career, although he had written before this time Barthes believed his work was of little value and therefore dismissed a lot of it </li></ul>
  7. 7. HIS LIFE <ul><li>At the end of the year Barthes was offered two jobs one at Cambridge and one at Bologna both of which he turned down </li></ul><ul><li>Instead Barthes took on a job in Paris which consisted of him recording everyday conversations to highlight the most frequently used French words to make into a dictionary to be used by foreign students </li></ul><ul><li>In 1953 Barthes was asked to write a regular column for a literary magazine on whichever subject he chose </li></ul><ul><li>Barthes decided to finish his job at the Foreign Office and began work as a researcher at the CNRS ( Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique) </li></ul><ul><li>In 1959 Barthes contract at CNRS had run out, he was considering applying for another job here and was having money problems however his friend Voisin came to his rescue and took him on as a literary adviser </li></ul>
  8. 8. HIS LIFE <ul><li>At the beginning of 1960 Roland took on another job as chef de travaux in the department of economics and social sciences at the Ecole </li></ul><ul><li>Then two years later in 1962, Barthes got the job of directeur d’etudes in sociology of signs, symbols and representations </li></ul><ul><li>At the beginning of 1970 Bathes added to his interests; along with music and writing he started looking at painting or rather ‘graphisms’ </li></ul><ul><li>Towards the end of 1978 Barthes was at the height of his fame, he was being asked to give lectures, write articles and give interviews </li></ul><ul><li>On February 25 th 1980 Barthes was struck down by a Laundry truck walking home after his luncheon with friends and died from his injuries a month later. </li></ul>
  9. 9. HIS WORK <ul><li>Roland Barthes by Roland Barthes  1977 </li></ul><ul><li>Writer Sollers  1979 </li></ul><ul><li>A Barthes Reader  1980 </li></ul><ul><li>Camera Lucida  1977 </li></ul><ul><li>Critical Essays  1964 </li></ul><ul><li>The Eiffel Tower and other Mythologies  1964 </li></ul><ul><li>Elements of Semiology  1964 </li></ul><ul><li>Empire of Signs  1970 </li></ul><ul><li>The Fashion System  1967 </li></ul><ul><li>The grain of the Voice  1962 </li></ul><ul><li>Image-Music-Text  1977 </li></ul><ul><li>Incidents  1987 </li></ul><ul><li>Michele by Himself  1954 </li></ul><ul><li>A Lovers Discourse  1977 </li></ul><ul><li>Michelet  1954 </li></ul><ul><li>Mythologies  1957 </li></ul><ul><li>The Neutral  1974 </li></ul><ul><li>New Critical Essays  1972 </li></ul><ul><li>On Racine  1963 </li></ul><ul><li>The Pleasure of the Text  1973 </li></ul><ul><li>The Responsibility of Forns  1982 </li></ul><ul><li>The Rustle of Language  1984 </li></ul><ul><li>Sade/Fourier/Loyola  1971 </li></ul><ul><li>The Semiotic Challenge  1985 </li></ul><ul><li>An Essay  1970 </li></ul><ul><li>Writing Degree Zero  1953 </li></ul><ul><li>What is Sport  1960 </li></ul><ul><li>Criticism and Truth  1966 </li></ul>
  10. 10. INFLUENCE ON OTHERS <ul><li>Louis-Jean Calvet, Trans Sarah Wykes; Roland Barthes: A Biography, Indiana University Press, Bloomington, 1994 </li></ul><ul><li>Michael Moriarty, Roland Barthes, Stanford University Press, Stanford California, 1991 </li></ul><ul><li>Graham, Allen. Roland Barthes. London: Routledge, 2003 </li></ul><ul><li>Wasserman, George R. Roland Barthes. Boston: Twayne Publishes, 1981 </li></ul><ul><li>Jean-Jacques, Thomas. Roland Barthes: A Beginner’s Guide, 2004 </li></ul>
  11. 11. A LOVERS DISCOURSE <ul><li>Barthe wrote ‘A Lovers Discourse’ in 1977 </li></ul><ul><li>This work presents the fictionalised reflections of a lover seeking to identify and be identified by an anonymous amorous other </li></ul><ul><li>It was a literary project full of paragraphed descriptions of love between lovers </li></ul><ul><li>Its an overall outlook on the way love in the form of signs can be completely ambigious to others </li></ul><ul><li>Unless the truth is directly spoken then all other forms of communication falls back para-doxically on the omnipotence of language </li></ul><ul><li>Literary and philosophical thought of a lovers point of view. Barthes calls them ‘figures’- gestures of the lovers at work </li></ul><ul><li>Its an interesting look at how a lover will look at another with the prosumption that one knows how the other feels, yet how can one when the signs in which they look for are so ambigious </li></ul>
  12. 12. CAMERA LUCIDA <ul><li>Latin for ‘lit room’ the camera lucida is a light, portable device that does not project an image </li></ul><ul><li>A short book published in 1980, it is a enquiry both into the nature and essence of photography. </li></ul><ul><li>When his mother, Henriette Barthes, died in 1977 he began writing Camera Lucida as an attempt to explain the unique significance a picture of her as a child carries for him </li></ul><ul><li>It is also an investigation into the effects photography has on the viewer </li></ul><ul><li>Barthes is also interested in the way photographs can be seen as three practices:To do To undergo To look </li></ul><ul><li>These practises can also be interpreted as: The operator – the photographer, The Target – the person or thing being photographed and The spectator – ourselves or anyone who looks at the magazines, archives, photographs </li></ul>
  13. 13. <ul><li>The book develops the twin concept of Studium : punctum. Studium – reflecting on the relationship between the obvious symbolic meaning of a photograph. Punctum : that which is purely personal and dependant on the individual, that which pierces the viewer </li></ul><ul><li>Barthes was troubled by the fact that such distinctions collapse when personal significance is communicated to others and can have its symbolic logic rationalised </li></ul><ul><li>A picture is not so much a solid representation of what is as what was and therefore what has ceased to be. It does not make reality solid but serves as a reminder of the worlds inconstant and ever changing state. Because of this there is something uniquely personal contained in the photograph of Barthes’ mother that cannot be removed from his subject: the recurrent feeling of loss experienced whenever he looks at it </li></ul><ul><li>As one of his final works before his death, Camera Lucida was both an ongoing reflection on the complicated relations between subjectivity, meaning and cultural society as well as a touching dedication to his mother and description of the depth of his grief </li></ul>
  14. 14. EMPIRE OF SIGNS <ul><li>Barthes wrote Empire of Signs after his visit to Japan in 1950 </li></ul><ul><li>Barthes based this text on the signs he saw around him in Japan </li></ul><ul><li>He was in a country where he could not understand the language so instead he took meanings from the signs surrounding him. </li></ul><ul><li>He called these signs ‘empty signs’ as although they had a meaning to the natives of the country Barthes found himself inserting his own implications onto them. </li></ul><ul><li>According to many resources Japan was Barthes ‘Semiotic Paradise’ where he could look at many different signs that had many significances to various people. </li></ul>
  15. 15. SADE/FOURIER/LOYOLA <ul><li>A book of literary theory written in 1971 analysing the texts of Sade, Fourier and Loyola </li></ul><ul><li>Barthes looks at the similarities between these three; the saint Loyola, Sade who is a renowned and sometimes pornographic freethinker, and Fourier, an idealist. </li></ul><ul><li>Barthes claims that all three are founders of languages; Loyola as the founder of divine address, Sade founded language of erotic freedom and Fourier, language of perfection and happiness </li></ul><ul><li>A quote from the preface of the text, </li></ul><ul><li>“ Here they are all three brought together, the evil writer, the great utopian, and the Jesuit saint” </li></ul><ul><li>Roland Barthes challenges the structure between sound and image. Before image there was only sound. Stories were spread by word of mouth. </li></ul><ul><li>‘ Hearing is believing’ became ‘Seeing is believing ’ </li></ul>
  16. 16. MYTHOLOGIES <ul><li>Barthes wrote by monthly instalments to ‘Le Lettres Nouvelles’, a popular series of essays that dismantled myths of popular culture. These can be found in his Mythologies. </li></ul><ul><li>Barthes made many monthly contributions that made up Mythologies (1957). He would often interrogate pieces of cultural material to expose how Bourgeois society used them to assert its values upon others. </li></ul><ul><li>Mythologies was full of essays and works of literature which ranged in content but all followed the same concern for values and attitudes associated with what our culture bombards us with: </li></ul><ul><li>Advertisements, Newspaper and Magazine reports, Photographs, Material objects such as cars/toys </li></ul>
  17. 17. MYTHOLOGIES <ul><li>The first four chapters of Mythologies: </li></ul><ul><li>One: Wrestling </li></ul><ul><li>Two: Photographs of Actors </li></ul><ul><li>Three: Film of Julius Caesar </li></ul><ul><li>Four: Images of Writers on holiday </li></ul><ul><li>At first sight these topics seem to have little in common, but they are linked not by subject matter but by a common status as messages circulating within mass culture </li></ul><ul><li>Barthes’ ‘Mythologies’ became absorbed itself into Bourgeois culture as he found he was being asked to comment on a certain culture phenomenon, people being interested in his control over readership. This caused him to question the overall utility of de-mystifying culture for the masses </li></ul><ul><li>Later on in life Barthes felt Mythologies had suffered from not being as work of truly neutral writing which meant that he himself was bombarding culture with assertive meanings </li></ul>
  18. 18. STRUCTURALISM <ul><li>Interest began in Structuralism in 1958 </li></ul><ul><li>Revealing the importance of language in writing </li></ul><ul><li>Language is made up of structures </li></ul><ul><li>Early Structuralists took inspiration from phonology (sounds). This then explored syntax (combining words, sentences and dialogue), semantics (the meaning of words and combinations), and pragmatics (the uses and effects of signs). </li></ul><ul><li>Term used to describe theories across humanities, social sciences and economics </li></ul><ul><li>Structural analysis of narratives – examining the relationship between the structure of a sentence within the larger narrative, therefore allowing narrative to be viewed along linguistic lines </li></ul><ul><li>Barthes found the basic structures within written texts follow the same formula, for example in the case of ‘West Side Story’ and ‘Romeo & Juliet’ </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Formula  Opposing Forces  Death </li></ul></ul>
  19. 19. SEMIOLOGY <ul><li>The study of signs and understanding how meaning is constructed and understood </li></ul><ul><li>Barthes used semiology when studying pieces of cultural material to expose how Bourgeois society were asserting their values upon others. He found within the French culture that wine was portrayed as a robust and healthy habit, but the reality is that wine can be destructive and intoxicating </li></ul><ul><li>Barthes labelled Bourgeois cultural myths as significations. </li></ul><ul><li>Picture this - a full dark bottle. This picture is a signifier that will in turn relate to a signified, in this case a bottle of wine </li></ul><ul><li>(A relationship between signifier and signified that we would recognise is… </li></ul><ul><li>white circle with a red rim and the number 50 inside  50mph </li></ul><ul><li>The picture automatically triggers a reaction) </li></ul>
  20. 20. <ul><li>Signifier – Bottle </li></ul><ul><li>Signified – Wine </li></ul><ul><li>The Bourgeois take this original signified and apply their own emphasis to it, making the signified the signifier. </li></ul><ul><li>Signifier – Wine </li></ul><ul><li>Signified – Healthy, robust, relaxing wine </li></ul><ul><li>Barthes “cultural myths” exist still in today’s society, for example in magazines today we see pictures of tall and skinny girls. This signifier relates to a signified, that to be fashionable it is best to be skinny </li></ul>
  21. 21. POST-STRUCTURALISM <ul><li>Culture that is inseparable from meaning </li></ul><ul><li>Post-Structuralism emerged in France in the 1960’s </li></ul><ul><li>The movement was a distinct reaction to, and criticised Structuralism </li></ul><ul><li>The idea of Post-Structuralism is not widely discussed in Europe, which is supposedly where most ‘Post-Structuralist’ theory comes from </li></ul><ul><li>Contributors were once Structuralists who abandoned it to became quite critical of it, thus this refers to the ‘post’ </li></ul><ul><li>Post-Structuralists believe in direct contrast, they typically view culture as inseparable from meaning where as Structuralists believe culture derived from its own meaning </li></ul><ul><li>At the time of Post-Structuralism there was political anxiety, and in France students and workers were rebelling against the state, almost causing the downfall of the French government </li></ul><ul><li>During these years there was an increased interest in alternative and more radical philosophies, such as Feminism, Marxism and Nihilism. These theories are linked by being critical of dominant Western philosophy and culture </li></ul>
  22. 22. TEXTUALITY <ul><li>Barthes believed that since meaning cant come from the author, it must be actively created by the reader through a process of textual analysis </li></ul><ul><li>He famously applied this notion by analysing a short story by Balzac called Sarrasine </li></ul><ul><li>From this project Barthes concluded that an ideal text is one that is reversible or open to the greatest variety of independent interpretations and not restrictive in meaning </li></ul><ul><li>Writerly and Readerly are key terms used within Textuality </li></ul><ul><li>Writerly: text in which the reader is active in a creative process. Aspires to the proper goal of literature and criticism. Writerly text makes the reader no longer a consumer but a producer of the text </li></ul><ul><li>Readerly: text in which the reader is restricted to just reading. A text which makes no requirement of the reader to write or produce his or her own meanings. The reader may passively locate “ready-made” meaning. Like a cupboard where meanings are shelved, stacked, safeguarded </li></ul>
  23. 23. NOVELISTIC NEUTRALITY <ul><li>Barthes was increasingly concerned with the conflict of two types of language: that of popular culture which he saw as limiting and pigeonholing and neutral language which he saw as open and non-committal. They were called Doxa and Para-Doxa </li></ul><ul><li>It is extremely difficult to achieve truly neutral writing as it requires an avoidance of any labels that might carry an implied meaning or identity towards a given object </li></ul><ul><li>To find the best method for creating neutral writing, Barthes tried to create a novelistic form of rhetoric that would not seek to impose its meaning on the reader </li></ul><ul><li>‘ A lover’s Discourse’ was a product of this </li></ul><ul><li>The idea was to create a novelistic character that the reader can sympathise with and is therefore open not just to criticise but also understand </li></ul>
  24. 24. THE AUTHOR AND THE SCRIPTOR <ul><li>Terms Barthes uses to describe different ways of thinking about the creators of texts </li></ul><ul><li>The Author – Our traditional concept of a lone genius creating a work of literature from his/her original imagination. Barthes believed such a figure no longer exists. All writing draws on previous texts, norms and conventions </li></ul><ul><li>The Scriptor – In place of the Author we have the Scriptor who’s only power is to combine pre-existing texts in new ways </li></ul>
  25. 25. SUMMARY OF KEY IDEAS <ul><li>Demystifying culture for the masses </li></ul><ul><li>Search for individualistic meaning in art </li></ul><ul><li>Dissect and expose the misleading mechanisms of Bourgeois Culture </li></ul><ul><li>Interrogate pieces of cultural material to expose how bourgeois society used them to assert its values upon others </li></ul><ul><li>Investigating the logical ends of structuralist thought </li></ul><ul><li>Dismantled myths of popular culture </li></ul><ul><li>Create a form of writing that would not seek to impose its meaning on the reader </li></ul><ul><li>To bring about a general, individualistic way of thinking to the masses </li></ul>
  26. 26. EXISTENTIALISM <ul><li>Existentialism was a movement that happened within 20 th century literature and philosophy </li></ul><ul><li>It claims that individuals are entirely free and ultimately responsible for their own lives and what they make of themselves </li></ul><ul><li>Human beings create the meaning and essence of their own lives </li></ul><ul><li>“ The refusal to belong to any school of thought” – Walter Kaufman </li></ul><ul><li>“ I see, therefore I am” – Jean Paul Sartre </li></ul><ul><li>Existentialism impacted Barthes work because it followed some of the same principles that Barthes believed in, that everybody is individual and have their own streams of thought and that we shouldn’t be bound to others or make other people responsible for ourselves </li></ul>
  27. 27. MARXISM <ul><li>Communist movement, founded by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels </li></ul><ul><li>It explores social classes and how they reflect material situations </li></ul><ul><li>Followers of Marxism aim to achieve emancipation (word to describe numerous efforts to achieve political rights and equality) </li></ul><ul><li>and enlightenment (attainment for new wisdom or understanding enabling precision of perception) </li></ul><ul><li>Barthes and followers of Marxism share a sympathy for the working class, which is why Marxism had an influence on Barthes </li></ul><ul><li>Barthes had a shared sympathy with Marxist thought, but later in his lifetime he felt that despite their anti-ideological stance, Marxist theory was just as guilty of using violent language and assertive meanings, as was in Bourgeois literature` </li></ul>
  28. 28. ACCOUNT OF BARTHES’ IDEAS <ul><li>Barthes influenced a lot of theorists and artists in later years </li></ul><ul><li>He founded the Ancient Theatre Group with a fellow student from Louis-Le-Grand, Jacques Veil. Roland would challenge people in performance because he wants people to take a neutral stance be it the audience or performer. Barthes wanted to eliminate ambiguity as not to impose meaning on others and allow them to discover it themselves </li></ul><ul><li>Roland affects Scenography as he tries to make people look at simple images and take their meaning further </li></ul><ul><li>Within culture Barthes felt the societies hierarchy forced certain ideas onto the community which stopped them being ‘freethinkers’ </li></ul>