The Process Approach
Now, there’s maybe a confusion of terms and concepts here. Concerns about gaze and voice, as they impact the text, can be chalked up to the author function, perhaps, depending on how that shakes out. Meanwhile concerns about women creators or queer creators can be treated separately from concerns about the meaning of the text; indeed, if we’re noticing that women portray female characters different than men do, we need to examine those portrayals as independent objects without reference to their creators first in order to show that it’s the portrayal that’s different and not our perception of it. It’s possible that a lot of this concern is part of the second step of an argument, where the first step is an explication of the text itself and the second is an explanation about why that text’s meaning matters to the culture as a whole. Only the first step is literary analysis as I’ve described it, but the second step is part of what makes literary analysis useful.
So that’s three different ways of thinking about how authors matter to their text’s meanings without determining those meanings. I’m quite aware that my thinking in this area is still weak and needs more work, but that will have to come sometime in the future. If you have any concerns or contributions, let me know.
*For more on the two versions of Hamlet, and how the second version is a watershed in not just Shakespeare’s own writing but English-language literature generally, take a look at Shapiro’s 1599: A Year in the Life of William Shakespeare. Honestly, if you have even a little bit of interest in Shakespeare, or literature, or English history, give it a read: it’s one of those academic-topic-for-popular-audience books, and it’s good at being such a book.
**I don’t actually buy the Paradise-Lost-as-critique-of-Christianity argument, but even if it’s the case, that doesn’t say anything about Milton.