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Interpreters of texts often make appeal to the intention of an author in composing a document in a certain way: the supposition is that a given text was conscientiously framed by an author this way in order to convey that meaning. This approach privileges "historical" readings, and goes "behind" the text to discern meaning by attempting to peer into the author's motivations.

The value of "authorial intention" for interpretation has been queried by those who see problems: the mind of the author is inaccessible to readers of the text; authors may be "unreliable"; authors may intend to mean X, but produce a text that says Y; and so on. This repudiation of "authorial intent" is associated with "New Criticism", and especially with W. K. Wimsatt & and Monroe C. Beardsley, "The Intentional Fallacy" in The Verbal Icon: Studies in the Meaning of Poetry (University of Kentucky Press, 1954), pp. 3-18.

The notion of "authorial intent" is further complicated for in studying the Bible, since little is known of many of its authors, and so "authorial" questions are often speculative.

This tag should be used for questions with an historical interest in the production of the text. Good examples of questions tagged with "authorial-intent" include:

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