Grad school meant reading really tough articles from insanely intelligent scholars who are usually analyzing things I never realized were in existence. It was daunting. It was exhausting. And it was oddly inspiring. For each paper, I found myself asking, what was he thinking in order to come up with this brilliant concept? Or more commonly, I asked, huh?
But in all seriousness, we got to read some pretty awesome material. And as we read new scholars and varying theories, we each navigated towards one scholar of choice who best represented our perspectives and interests. My man is Roland Barthes — the scholar who questioned every act in life and was curious as to why we do what we do.
Roland Barthes was a French literary theorist, philosopher, critic, and rhetorician. He was quite crucial in developing many schools of theory: structuralism, Marxism, anthropology, semiotics, social theory, existentialism, and post-structuralism, just to name a few. No big. Sadly, the babe Barthes died before I was born. I would have loved to get dinner with him and just chat about his perceptions of the ordinary.
One reason why I love Barthes is his plurality. It seems he was an expert across multiple domains. Barthes wrote a book called Mythologies that is full of short stories accentuating his diverse interests. For instance, he rants about how “toys literally prefigure the universe of adult functions” because most toys are just miniature contraptions of adult objects and then three pages later he contemplates why the French flood of 1955 brought celebration instead of chaos. Soon after that, he discusses the topic of ornamental cuisine presented in Elle magazine. This babe questioned and contemplated everyday life.
My second reason for choosing Barthes as my main man is because he loved fashion and photography. So up my alley. Barthes wrote many chapters and articles regarding fashion that have been compiled into The Language of Fashion. He contemplated how historical input and social status pertain to our clothing of choice while also exploring the world of accessories, dandyism, hippies, and magazine trend reporting. This book is awesome. The best part? Barthes actually took the much-perceived-materialistic items — that of fashion and clothing — and turned them into the cultural and historical phenomena that they truly are by exercising careful contemplation and consideration in his analysis.
I am introducing the babe Barthes to our Pinks+Femme readers because I know he’ll be much referenced in future posts. Grab any one of his books — Mythologies, The Language of Fashion, The Fashion System, Camera Lucida, Image-Music-Text, to name a few, and join in on conversations inspired by this much appreciated intellect.
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