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Roland Barthes was a French literary theorist, philosopher, linguist, critic, and semiotician whose work influenced a number of scholars in media studies. Barthes is most well known for his work in semiotics, social theory, design theory and post-structuralism. Mythologies, written in 1957, helped him become established in France as a public intellectual. Bringing together most of a series of essayistic reflections that Barthes had been fashioning on a monthly basis for the journal Lettres Nouvelles (plus two pieces from other publications) on objects, phenomena, and key practices of contemporary mass culture, Mythologies stands as one of the first concerted modern attempts to attend closely to the concrete operations of mass culture as ideological practice.

The volume gains additional value from a long theoretical postscript, “The Myth Today,” that Barthes penned in 1957 after he had concluded his series of little examinations of French everyday life. He appended the postscript to these mini-studies, the individual "mythologies" of French life to seem to grant them the rigor of quasi-scientific method: although the analyses themselves tended to eschew jargon and high theoretical formulation for more journalistic commentary, “The Myth Today” claimed that underlying each of Barthes’s disquisitions on specific practices of mass culture was a grounding of analysis in that fairly new methodology known as semiology (the science of signs, here understood as the taking of mass cultural phenomena as so many loaded messages addressed to everyday citizens).


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Roland Barthes - How to Read the Signs in the News