This chapter, along with the next, deals with Barthes's work from the late 1960s to the early 1970s. Culturally and politically, this period of French history is dominated by the student and workers' revolt of 1968 and its aftermath. In early May 1968, student protests against the Vietnam War and the rigidities of French politics (exemplified by the President, Charles de Gaulle) spread from Nanterre to the Sorbonne, to the streets of Paris and to other cities in France. The involvement of workers' unions and eventually the PCF and various left and far-left groups threatened, for a brief moment at the end of the month, to topple the government. Although the events of May 1968 were eventually contained by conventional political mechanisms, the spirit of radical, at times revolutionary, ideas came to dominate intellectual thought in France and beyond. The radical political events of the late 1960s are matched in France by the emergence of radical ideas associated with theorists and philosophers such as Jacques Derrida (1930-), Julia Kristeva (1941-), Michel Foucault (1926-84), Jean Baudrillard (1929-) and Philippe Sollers (1936-) among others. These new ideas have subsequently been grouped under the rather broad category of post-structuralism. Barthes's work of this period was greatly influenced by post-structuralist ideas and, in turn, was a significant influence on many of its seminal thinkers.
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Publication information: Book title: Roland Barthes. Contributors: Graham Allen - Author. Publisher: Routledge. Place of publication: London. Publication year: 2003. Page number: 63.
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