About Roland Barthes


Roland Barthes was born in Cherbourg, France November 12, 1915 to middle class parents. He grew up in Bayonne, France, attended secondary school in Paris, and received degrees in classical letters and grammar and philosophy from the University of Paris. As the leading structuralist thinker, Barthes was highly influenced by Ferdinand de Saussure’s semiology — the formal study of signs and signification. He was a prolific interpreter, disseminator, and reviser of most of the complex theoretical concepts that circulated within France’s centres of learning from the 1950s on. From 1952 to 1959, Barthes worked at the Centre national de la recherche scientifique. He was elected chair of literary semiology at the College de France in 1976 and was acknowledged as the leading critic of his generation in 1978. He was a dominant theoretical voice of the 1970s across Europe and America, making his influence felt in popular culture as well. Barthes died at the age of sixty-four after injuries sustained in a car accident. His works include Writing Degree Zero (1953), Mythologies (1957), Criticism and Truth (1966), S/Z (1972), The Pleasure of the Text (1973), and Image Music Text (1978).