Let There Be Text
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theories of interpretation
politics and literature

How to Cite

Let There Be Text: Reading Political Narratives as Authorless Texts. (2021). The Political Science Reviewer, 45(2), 319-354. https://politicalsciencereviewer.wisc.edu/index.php/psr/article/view/673


When political theorists analyze narratives, they usually refer to the narrative’s author to relate it to the nonwritten political world. I argue that this is not always necessary. Analyzing the content and form of a narrative without reference to auctorial intention can be useful, too. I draw on literary theory, social science methodology, and interpretive political theory to examine the benefits of authorless interpretation. Most importantly, the arguments of the literary critics Mallarmé, Barthes, Eliot, and Wimsatt and Beardsley help us to understand how political theory can analyze narratives as authorless texts without necessarily turning toward post-foundationalism. I conclude that authorless interpretations of narratives allow researchers to understand narrative patterns of explanation in politics better, to trace social change, to understand social structures independently from individual cases, to draw data from narratives, to analyze ambiguous problems without simplification, and to solve methodological problems in “politics and literature.”

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