This paper highlights inadequacies of a creative arts curriculum that claimed to have been informed by postmodern theories, without careful consideration of how these might or should impact on teaching and learning interactions. In particular, the relationship between intentionality and interpretation addressed in this case study is of concern for educationalists in a postmodern world. At issue is how assessors’ interpretations are responsive to or balanced with student meaning making. Drawing from research conducted at a South African fine art department, the author considers whether a transfer of Barthes’ notion of author to student intentionality and reader to lecturer interpretation is a constructive framework for student learning. In the case studied, flat approaches to the post-structuralist ‘intentionality fallacy’ were found to further exacerbate unequal power dynamics, with detrimental effects on student learning. An argument is made for more ethically aware approaches to the balance between interpretation and intentionality by recognizing that it echoes the relationship between self and other.