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The Barthes Effect
The Essay as Reflective Text
Réda BensmaïaTranslated by Pat FedkiewForeword by Michèle H. Richman
University of Minnesota Press, 1987

The Barthes Effect was first published in 1987. Minnesota Archive Editions uses digital technology to make long-unavailable books once again accessible, and are published unaltered from the original University of Minnesota Press editions.

The author acknowledges the essay as an eccentric phenomenon in literary history, one that has long resisted entry into the taxonomy of genres, as it concentrates on four works by Roland Barthes: The Pleasure of the Text, A Lover's Discourse, Roland Barthes by Roland Barthes, and Camera Lucida. Maintains that with Barthes the essay achieves a status of its own, as reflective text.

". . . a study rigorously conscious of the critical maneuvers it executes and, more importantly, questions as critical practice . . . " Bensmaïa's strategy produces a successful investigation of the interstices and slippages of meaning which Barthes addressed in his work." SubStance

Reda Bensmaia is associate professor in the departments of French and comparative literature at the University of Minnesota, and translator Pat Fedkiew, a graduate student in French at Minnesota. Michele Richman is associate professor of French at the University of Pennsylvania and author of Reading Georges Bataille: Beyond the Gift.


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Black and Blue
The Bruising Passion of Camera Lucida, La Jete, Sans soleil, and Hiroshima mon amour
Carol Mavor
Duke University Press, 2012
Audacious and genre-defying, Black and Blue is steeped in melancholy, in the feeling of being blue, or, rather, black and blue, with all the literality of bruised flesh. Roland Barthes and Marcel Proust are inspirations for and subjects of Carol Mavor's exquisite, image-filled rumination on efforts to capture fleeting moments and to comprehend the incomprehensible. At the book's heart are one book and three films—Roland Barthes's Camera Lucida, Chris Marker's La Jetée and Sans soleil, and Marguerite Duras's and Alain Resnais's Hiroshima mon amour—postwar French works that register disturbing truths about loss and regret, and violence and history, through aesthetic refinement.

Personal recollections punctuate Mavor's dazzling interpretations of these and many other works of art and criticism. Childhood memories become Proust's "small-scale contrivances," tiny sensations that open onto panoramas. Mavor's mother lost her memory to Alzheimer's, and Black and Blue is framed by the author's memories of her mother and effort to understand what it means to not be recognized by one to whom you were once so known.


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Critical Essays
Roland Barthes
Northwestern University Press, 1972
The essays in this volume were written during the years that its author's first four books were published in France. They chart the course of Barthe's criticism from the vocabularies of existentialism and Marxism (reflections on the social situation of literature and writer's responsibility before History) to a psychoanalysis of substances (after Bachelard) and a psychoanalytical anthropology (which evidently brought Barthes to his present terms of understanding with Levi-Strauss and Lacan).

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The Grain of the Voice
Interviews 1962-1980
Roland Barthes
Northwestern University Press, 2009

This book brings together the great majority of Barthes’s interviews that originally appeared in French in Le Figaro Littéraire, Cahiers du Cinéma, France-Observateur, L'Express, and elsewhere. Barthes replied to questions—on the cinema, on his own works, on fashion, writing, and criticism—in his unique voice; here we have Barthes in conversation, speaking directly, with all his individuality. These interviews provide an insight into the rich, probing intelligence of one of the great and influential minds of our time.


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New Critical Essays
Roland Barthes
Northwestern University Press, 2009
New Critical gathers Roland Barthes's essays on classic texts of French literature, works by La Rochefoucauld, Chateaubriand, Proust, Flaubert, Fromentin, and Lori. Like an artist sketching, Barthes in these essays is working out the more fascinating details of his larger theories.
In the innocuously names "Proust and Names" and "Flaubert and Sentences," Barthes explores the relation of the author to writing that begins his transition to his later thought. In his studies of La Rochefoucauld's maxims and the illustrative plates of the Encyclopedia, Barthes reveals new vistas on common cultural artifacts, while "Where to Begin?" offers a glimpse into his own analytical processes. The concluding essays on Fromentin and Loti show the breadth of Barthes's inquiry. As a whole, the essays demonstrate both the acuity and freshness of Barthes's critical mind and the gracefulness of his own use of language.   

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Opacity and the Closet
Queer Tactics in Foucault, Barthes, and Warhol
Nicholas de Villiers
University of Minnesota Press, 2012

Opacity and the Closet interrogates the viability of the metaphor of “the closet” when applied to three important queer figures in postwar American and French culture: the philosopher Michel Foucault, the literary critic Roland Barthes, and the pop artist Andy Warhol. Nicholas de Villiers proposes a new approach to these cultural icons that accounts for the queerness of their works and public personas.

Rather than reading their self-presentations as “closeted,” de Villiers suggests that they invent and deploy productive strategies of “opacity” that resist the closet and the confessional discourse associated with it. Deconstructing binaries linked with the closet that have continued to influence both gay and straight receptions of these intellectual and pop celebrities, de Villiers illuminates the philosophical implications of this displacement for queer theory and introduces new ways to think about the space they make for queerness.

Using the works of Foucault, Barthes, and Warhol to engage each other while exploring their shared historical context, de Villiers also shows their queer appropriations of the interview, the autobiography, the diary, and the documentary—forms typically linked to truth telling and authenticity.


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Problems in General Linguistics
An Expanded Edition, Volume 1
Émile Benveniste
HAU, 2021
First published fifty years ago, Émile Benveniste’s two-volume Problèmes de linguistique générale revolutionized the study of linguistics and remains among the most influential texts in the field. This expanded edition of the first volume presents the original English translation by Mary Elizabeth Meek, produced in close collaboration with Benveniste himself, along with his hitherto untranslated articles on play, translation, singular and plural forms, and Indigenous North American languages. These works are contextualized by an introduction by editor Jordan K. Skinner and a preface by Roland Barthes. 

This new edition will delight linguists and philosophers already familiar with Benveniste and introduce his work to a new generation of students. Benveniste studies are going through an enthusiastic revival in Europe; after reading this book, readers elsewhere will understand why.

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Roland Barthes
Structuralism and After
Annette Lavers
Harvard University Press, 1982

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Signs In Culture
Roland Barthes Today
Steven Ungar
University of Iowa Press, 1989

Roland Barthes's critical writings promoted postwar movements ranging from the New Novel to the Parisian version of structural analysis. As a theorist, he was inspired in large part by semiology, the general science of signs set forth in the work of Ferdinand de Saussure. This volume presents a challenging variety of essays that elaborate and comment on specific elements in the evolution of Barthes's study of signs, from the revolutionary semiology of his 1957 Mythologies to the semioclasm and semiotrophy of such post-1960s' books as S/Z, The Pleasure of the Text, and A Lover's Discourse.

The nine essays of Signs in Culture have been organized to express the striking interplay of language and writing as the ethics of form Barthes first described in his 1953 Writing Degree Zero. Each essay serves as a pivotal critical exercise beginning with or departing from Barthes's writing. Each essayist thus engages an expanded semiology which inscribes the life of signs within the institutions and practices that literary critics, philosophers, and historians alike have seen as constituting the elements of a cultural study and critique.


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Steel Chair to the Head
The Pleasure and Pain of Professional Wrestling
Nicholas Sammond, ed.
Duke University Press, 2005
The antagonists—oiled, shaved, pierced, and tattooed; the glaring lights; the pounding music; the shouting crowd: professional wrestling is at once spectacle, sport, and business. Steel Chair to the Head provides a multifaceted look at the popular phenomenon of pro wrestling. The contributors combine critical rigor with a deep appreciation of wrestling as a unique cultural form, the latest in a long line of popular performance genres. They examine wrestling as it happens in the ring, is experienced in the stands, is portrayed on television, and is discussed in online chat rooms. In the process, they reveal wrestling as an expression of the contradictions and struggles that shape American culture.

The essayists include scholars in anthropology, psychology, film studies, communication studies, and sociology, one of whom used to wrestle professionally. Classic studies of wrestling by Roland Barthes, Carlos Monsiváis, Sharon Mazer, and Henry Jenkins appear alongside original essays. Whether exploring how pro wrestling inflects race, masculinity, and ideas of reality and authenticity; how female fans express their enthusiasm for male wrestlers; or how lucha libre provides insights into Mexican social and political life, Steel Chair to the Head gives due respect to pro wrestling by treating it with the same thorough attention usually reserved for more conventional forms of cultural expression.

Contributors. Roland Barthes, Douglas L. Battema, Susan Clerc, Laurence de Garis, Henry Jenkins III, Henry Jenkins IV, Heather Levi, Sharon Mazer, Carlos Monsiváis, Lucia Rahilly, Catherine Salmon, Nicholas Sammond, Phillip Serrat, Philip Sewell


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Touching Photographs
Margaret Olin
University of Chicago Press, 2012

Photography does more than simply represent the world. It acts in the world, connecting people to form relationships and shaping relationships to create communities. In this beautiful book, Margaret Olin explores photography’s ability to “touch” us through a series of essays that shed new light on photography’s role in the world.

Olin investigates the publication of photographs in mass media and literature, the hanging of exhibitions, the posting of photocopied photographs of lost loved ones in public spaces, and the intense photographic activity of tourists at their destinations. She moves from intimate relationships between viewers and photographs to interactions around larger communities, analyzing how photography affects the way people handle cataclysmic events like 9/11. Along the way, she shows us James VanDerZee’s Harlem funeral portraits, dusts off Roland Barthes’s family album, takes us into Walker Evans and James Agee’s photo-text Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, and logs onto online photo albums. With over one hundred illustrations, Touching Photographs is an insightful contribution to the theory of photography, visual studies, and art history.

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