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Columbia University Press
The Neutral: Lecture Course at the College de France (1977-1978)

The Neutral: Lecture Course at the College de France (1977-1978)

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The Neutral, as Barthes describes it, escapes or undoes the paradigmatic binary oppositions that structure and produce meaning in Western thought and discourse. These binaries are found in all aspects of human society, from language to sexuality to politics. For Barthes, the attempt to deconstruct or escape from these binaries has profound ethical, philosophical, and linguistic implications.

The Neutral comprises a landmark series of lectures Barthes delivered in 1978 at the Collège de France, just two years before his death. It centers around twenty-three "figures," also referred to as "traits" or "twinklings," that are possible embodiments of the Neutral (sleep, silence, tact) or of the anti-Neutral (anger, arrogance, conflict). His lectures draw on a diverse set of authors and intellectual traditions, including Lao-tzu, Tolstoy, German mysticism, classical philosophy, Rousseau, Baudelaire, Walter Benjamin, and John Cage. In addition to his reflections on a variety of literary and scholarly works, Barthes's personal convictions and the events of his life also shape the course and content of the lectures-most prominently, the recent death of his mother and the idea of mourning. Barthes's unique approach to his subjects gives his writing a playful, intimate, and even joyous quality that enhances his rich insights.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780231134057
Publisher: Columbia University Press
Publication date: 07/24/2007
Series: European Perspectives: A Series in Social Thought and Cultural Criticism
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 312
Sales rank: 628,122
Product dimensions: 9.96(w) x 7.10(h) x 0.64(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Roland Barthes was one of the most influential critics and philosophers of the twentieth century. His works include Mythologies, S/Z, A Lover's Discourse, and Camera Lucida.

Rosalind Krauss is University Professor of Modern Art and Theory at Columbia University. She is the author of The Optical Unconscious, Formless: A User's Guide, The Picasso Papers, and Bachelors, among other works.

Denis Hollier is Professor of French Literature at New York University. He is the editor of A New History of French Literature and the author of Absent Without Leave: French Literature Under the Threat of War.

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