Roland Barthes

The influence of Roland Barthes on almost all branches of the humanities and social sciences, from literature and philosophy to sociology, anthropology and cultural studies, was immense. His forensic examination of the semiotics of culture, which reached its most famous expression in his 1957 work Mythologies, developed a whole new way of thinking about language and meaning. This was a perspective that he would later transcend, as his famous critique of authorial authority and his scepticism towards the possibility of a definitive theory of meaning helped pave the way towards poststructuralism and the theoretical innovations of Derrida. Barthes' polymathic range led him to consider subjects as diverse as photography, sport and fashion in a career that saw him become one of the leading French intellectuals of his age. Polity has published his Travels in China and a major new biography of Barthes by Tiphaine Samoyault.