[I]n the order of scientific discourse, the attribution of a work to an author was, during the Middle Ages, indispensable, because such an attribution was an index of the work's truthfulness. A proposition was held to derive its scientific value from its author. Since the seventeenth century this function has been steadily disappearing in scientific discourse; it no longer functions except to give a name to a theorem, an effect, an example, or a syndrome. In the order of literary discourse, by contrast, starting in the same period, the author's function has been steadily gaining strength. Now, we demand of all those narratives, poems, dramas, and comedies which circulated relatively anonymously throughout the Middle Ages (and we insist that they tell us) where they come from and who wrote them. We require the author to answer for the unity of the text that we attach to his name; we require him to reveal, or at least to display, the hidden sense pervading his work; we require him to link his writings to his personal life and his lived experiences, to the real story that witnessed their birth.
-- Michel Foucault, L 'Ordre du discours ( 1971)
For a long time ordinary individuality--the everyday individuality of everybody--remained below the threshold of description. To be looked at, observed, talked about in detail, followed from day to day by an uninterrupted