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Roland Barthes
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    (November 12, 1915-March 26, 1980)
    Born in Cherbourg, France
    Philosopher and literary critic
    Influenced the development of semiotics, structuralism and post-structuralism
    Wrote 'Writing Degree Zero' (1968), 'Elements of Semiology' (1968), 'Mythologies' (1972), 'The Pleasure of the Text' (1975) and 'Roland Barthes by Roland Barthes' (1977)
    He was hired as a consultant by Renault to use semiotics (the formal study of symbols) to make their ads more persuasive.
    Encyclopedia Britannica described his literary style as 'sometimes eccentric and needlessly obscure.'
    His essay on Voltaire prompted one critic to write, 'Never has one brilliant writer so thoroughly misunderstood another.'
    He kept his homosexuality concealed.
    He lived with his mother until her death when he was 60.
    When he was an infant, his father died in a WWI naval battle.
    He was left-handed.
    He was one of the first intellectuals to analyze pop culture, writing about such topics as pro wrestling, celebrity weddings and soap ads.
    He said, 'I have tried to be as eclectic as I possibly can in my professional life, and so far it's been pretty fun.'
    After leaving a lunch with Francois Mitterand, he was knocked down by a laundry van and died a month later of complications from injuries suffered in the accident.

Credit: C. Fishel

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