In Michel Foucault's analysis of the identity and supposed role of both the symbolic and literal nature of the author in relation to the nature of literary compositon, there are several fundamental concepts which Foucault proposes to aid in the identification of the methods of literary composition in relation to the character of the author. Foucault engages in an analysis which goes beyond the mechanical aspects of a certain work of literature which may be attributed to a source by technicality, such as the style of the writing or gramatical trademarks, to propose that there are underlying elements within the framework of our conscious reality which provide a fundamental basis from which the collective spectrum of of conscious thought during any given period in history is centered around. This theory is constructed by Foucault to compose, in litereary terms, the parimeters to which the knowledge and conception of one's reality is limited at a particular period. Foucault terms this theory discursive formation, and foucault uses this construction of discursive formation to form a seperation between the genres of literary text, such as his regard to the difference between the nature of the novelist and the nature of those of whose work is centered around the evolution discursive formation.
Foucault proposes that there lies a fundamental difference between the function of the character of the innovative novelist and the character of the individual who composes a work of which drastically alters the conception of the reality in which the work was composed. Foucault cites such revolutionary thinkers as Sigmund Freud and Karl Marx, proposing that the content of such works as the communist manifesto are significant not only for the intellectual material which they contain, but for the potential for the evolution of the conscious conception of the world as a whole. For instance, Freud is considered as being the founder of psychoanalysis through his studies of dream interpretation, a notion which completely revolutionized the structure of psychology and the concept of the human consciousness.However, beyond his personal contributions to the psychological field, Freud is commended by Foucault as providing the fundamental basis from which subsequent fields of thought could develop. It was not merely the presumptions of Freud in his analysis which reconstructed the study of psychology, but the opportunity for the development of new and contrasting forms of thought and discoruse. Through his concept of discursive formation, Foucault is attempting to articulate how the influence of fundamental concepts proposed by theological works of written text can be attributed to the development and evolution of not only conscious intellectual thought, but the perception of reality as a whole.