“Death of the Author” in the Literature Classroom and John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars
Children's Literature in Education
Students in the English Language Arts classroom have access to more author commentary than ever. While following authors on social media may deepen students’ engagement with their assigned reading, it also threatens to subdue students’ own interpretations of the authors’ texts. This essay explains how educators can introduce basic aspects of Roland Barthes’s the Death of the Author manifesto to their students. Barthes’s concept helps students to recalibrate the value of an author’s biography and the author’s interpretation when analyzing a text. Just such a power recalibration takes place for teen characters in Green’s The Fault in Our Stars. Hazel, the protagonist, demonstrates sharp literary critique informed by Barthes’s theory when she engages with most texts. However, she initially rejects the Death of the Author approach when it comes to interpreting one idolized piece of literature: her favorite novel. During the novel’s emotional climax, Hazel repositions herself in the author-reader relationship and takes a more empowered position. She then discovers a new parallel text that helps her to find solace and to reclaim authority from the Author-god.
Moore, Tara, "“Death of the Author” in the Literature Classroom and John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars" (2021). Faculty Publications. 827.