Roland Barthes (1915-1980), a French critic and intellectual, was a seminal figure in late twentieth-century literary criticism. Barthes's primary theory is that language is not simply words, but a series of indicators of a given society's assumptions. He derived his critical method from structuralism, which studies the rules behind language, and semiotics, which analyzes culture through signs and holds that meaning results from social conventions. Barthes believed that such techniques permit the reader to participate in the work of art under study, rather than merely react to it. Barthes's first books, Writing Degree Zero (1953), and Mythologies (1957), introduced his ideas to a European audience. During the 1960s his work began to appear in the United States in translation and became a strong influence on a generation of American literary critics and theorists. Other important works by Barthes are Elements of Semiology (1968), Critical Essays (1972), The Pleasure of the Text (1973), and The Empire of Signs (1982). The Barthes Reader (1983), edited by Susan Sontag, contains a wide selection of the critic's work in English translation.
Colin Smith is an award-winning graphic designer who has caused a stir in the design community with his stunning photorealistic illustrations that he composes entirely in Photoshop. He is also founder of the popular PhotoshopCAFE web resource. He has won several design contests and awards including: first place, illustration, Photoshop World Guru Awards 2001, Los Angeles; finalist, Macworld Design Contest 2002, New York; and first Place, illustration, Photoshop World Guru Awards 2002, San Diego. Colin has coauthored six books for friends of ED, including From Photoshop to Dreamweaver , Photoshop Most Wanted 2 , and Photoshop 7 Trade Secrets . His latest book is How to Do Everything with Photoshop CS (McGraw-Hill Osborne, 2003). Colin writes weekly columns for Planet Photoshop and the National Association of Photoshop Professionals member site, and is a contributing writer for the Photoshop User and Mac Design magazines.
Susan Sontag, an influential cultural critic with a Harvard master's degree in philosophy, is noted for taking radical positions and venturing outrageous interpretations. Proclaiming a "new sensibility," she supported the cause of pop art and underground films in the 1960s. Her reputation as a formidable critic has been established by numerous reviews, essays, and articles in the New York Review of Books, the N.Y. Times, Harper's, and other periodicals. Against Interpretation (1966) includes her controversial essay "Notes on Camp," first published in Partisan Review. The title of the book introduces her argument against what she sees as the distortion of an original work by the countless critics who bend it to their own interpretations. "The aim of all commentary on art," she writes, "should be to make works of art---and, by analogy, our own experience---more, rather than less, real to us." Sontag has a mature modernist sensibility, but manages to depict the avant-garde in language accessible to any reader. She has lectured extensively around the United States and has taught philosophy at Harvard, Sarah Lawrence, and Columbia. She is a frequent and popular television discussion personality, particularly on contemporary issues of illness or feminism, although many feminists are unhappy that she does not declare herself to be a "feminist critic." She is also, less successfully, a fiction writer.