Elizabethtown College Assistant Professor of English Tara Moore’s article, “’Death of the Author’ in the Literature Classroom and John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars,” was recently published in the international quarterly journal, Children’s Literature in Education.

“My students in EN263 Young Adult (YA) Literature gave me insight into the ideas I discuss in the article,” said Moore. “It’s about how readers don’t need to seek out an author’s explanation of their work – we can create meaning ourselves if our argument is strong enough.”

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, argues Moore. Her 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. An example of this takes place for Hazel, the protagonist in John Green’s, “The Fault in Our Stars,” who demonstrates sharp literary critique informed by Barthes’s theory when she engages with most texts.

Moore has offered her students a new perspective on “The Fault in Our Stars” by talking about the best-selling novel as a literary text and now teaches reader empowerment as part of her class.

“My students have such fascinating ideas, so it is wonderful that they have the power to build their arguments and don’t have to worry about whether the author of a text would agree with them or not,” said Moore.