Feminist Literary Criticism and the Author
In the course of this essay I wish to reopen the (never fully closed) question of whether it is advisable to speak of the author, or of what Foucault calls "the author function," when querying a text, and I wish to reopen it precisely at the site where feminist criticism and post-structuralism are presently engaged in dialogue. Here in particular we might expect that reasons for rejecting author erasure would appear. However, theoretically informed feminist critics have recently found themselves tempted to agree with Barthes, Foucault, and the Edward Said of Beginnings that the authorial presence is best set aside in order to liberate the text for multiple uses.
I wish to examine the ways in which feminist critics have moved away from what some would call the old-fashioned assumption that what we do when we read is try to decipher the intentions of the text in terms of what we assume to be the author's deepest self. I also wish to make a further argument for reanimating the author, preserving author-function not only in terms of reception theory, as Foucault would seem at one point to advocate, but also in terms of a politics of author recognition.