Does Author Matter?

What if you stumbled across the most beautiful poem you’d ever read while browsing the Internet, only to learn that it was created by a computer program. Would it lose it’s value? Would "A Raisin in the Sun" lose it’s value if it was written by, say, a white man, or would it retain its message?

  • Between "Biographical Fallacy" (Wimsatt & Beardsley, 1946) and "Death of the Author" (Barthes, 1967), I can't help feeling this topic has been done to death (no pun intended). I'll admit, your invoking of Hansbury, however, might provide a somewhat fresh take. It's one thing to talk about authorial biography and intent when it's simply a matter of literary interpretation, but race does seem to complicate these matters. I could see the whole article just being about that; however, I'd be very surprised if even that hasn't been done before. – ProtoCanon 7 years ago
  • I think art can, and should, stand alone anonymously. Knowing the author or artist can influence our reaction to it. – Jeffrey Toney 7 years ago
  • I have always thought that the poem, or any piece of literature, can be interpreted as a stand alone piece, irrespective of the author. As such, the reader can always delve into the rationale behind why an author was stimulated to write what they did, but the words themselves carry more weight than the author. – NateSumislaski 7 years ago
  • Extremely interesting topic! I think it just depends on how you are reading it. New Criticism and close reading basically don't take the author into consideration. If you want to analyze a work from a biographical and/or historical standpoint, then maybe the author does matter--who says you can't analyze a computer program? To produce a great poem, that program has to somehow be programmed to follow the expectations of what a "great" poem is, for example. That will lead us to the programmer(s). – James Zhan 7 years ago
  • I would lean towards saying author doesn't matter. Take Beowulf, for example. It has no known author, is centuries old, yet continues to be taught in high schools and colleges across the United States. If one changes their opinion of a work simply based on its author, they are not truly accepting the work on the basis of its content, but rather on the name attached to it. – ngm1204 7 years ago

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