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Intertextuality November 18, 2016

Starting definition 

Intertextuality is a fusion concept which combines both descriptive and logical/mechanical (“practical”) textual features

It introduces the notion of “subtext” into textual analysis


What does it deal with?   

Textual intention and it “suggestiveness” Internal and external textual boundaries Communicative purpose and critical potential of the text Internal end external “linking mechanisms” of the text (various types of cohesion, internal and external contextual setting)


Different types of intentions and interpretations 

Author’s intention (the actual idea the author is promoting in the text) Textual intention (an idea/message which is inherent in the text, visible through cohesion mechanisms, or otherwise contained in the text) Textual reception (an idea which “gets accross”, interpretattion “on the other end”) 4

Personal reception→projection (!) (an individual/projected idea based on some elements of the text, not necessarily in accordance with the intention(s) of the text)

Intention and reception of the text are frequently different (they assign different, sometimes even opposite content(s) to the same text) 5

A text with its internal intertextual organization is a subject of the following processes:   



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Textual knowledge gained through these steps is then connected with other texts and applied to them.

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The next step within this application is the repetition of the previous three steps onto the next text.


Intertextual figures include:        

allusion quotation plagiarism translation localization transformation parody etc.


Allusion ď Ž

An allusion is a figure of speech that makes a reference to a place, person, or an event that happened in the past.

ď Ž

This can be real or imaginary and may refer to anything, including paintings, opera, folklore, mythical figures, or religious manuscripts. The reference can be direct or may be inferred, and can broaden the reader’s understanding.


Examples 

“I was surprised his nose was not growing like Pinocchio’s.” This refers to the story of Pinocchio, where his nose grew whenever he told a lie. It is from The Adventures of Pinocchio, written by Carlo Collodi. “When she lost her job, she acted like a Scrooge, and refused to buy anything that wasn’t necessary.” Scrooge was an extremely stingy character from Charles Dickens’, A Christmas Carol. “I thought the software would be useful, but it was a Trojan Horse.” This refers to the horse that the Greeks built that contained all the soldiers. It was given as a gift to the enemy during the Trojan War and, once inside the enemy's walls, the soldiers broke out. By using trickery, the Greeks won the war. “He was a real Romeo with the ladies.” Romeo was a character in Shakespeare’s play, Romeo and Juliet, and was very romantic in expressing his love for Juliet. “Chocolate was her Achilles’ heel.” This means that her weakness was her love of chocolate. Achilles is a character in Greek mythology who was invincible. His mother dipped him in magical water when he was a baby, and she held him by the heel. The magic protected him all over, except for his heel. Read more at


Quotation ď Ž

A group of words taken from a text or speech and repeated by someone other than the original author or speaker (in another text).


Plagiarism ď Ž

An act or instance of using or closely imitating the language and thoughts of another author without authorization and the representation of that author's work as one's own, as by not crediting the original author.


Translation ď Ž

The rendering of some text into another language or into one's own language from another language.


Localization ď Ž

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Cultural and contextual adaptation of translation for the purposes of target language audience. (websites, commercials, products, services, etc.)


Transformation ď Ž

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Transforming one textual format into another, either completely or in fragments, either in terms of grammar or in some other (possibly visual) way. (passivization, writting a summary, abbreviating, taking down audio-content into a textual format, etc.)


Parody ď Ž

A humorous or satirical imitation of a serious piece of literature or writing: His hilarious parody of Hamlet's soliloquy.


Intertextuality... 

...derived from the Latin intertexto, meaning to intermingle while weaving.

The term was first introduced by French semiotician Julia Kristeva in the late sixties. In essays such as "Word, Dialogue, and Novel," Kristeva broke with traditional notions of the author's "influences" and the text's "sources," positing that all signifying systems, from table settings to poems, are constituted by the manner in which they transform earlier signifying systems.


A literary work, then, is not simply the product of a single author, but of its relationship to other texts and to the strucutures of language itself.

“Any text," Kristeva argues, "is constructed of a mosaic of quotations; any text is the absorption and transformation of another“. 18

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Intertextuality is, thus, a way of accounting for the role of literary and extra-literary materials without recourse to traditional notions of authorship.

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It subverts the concept of the text as selfsufficient, hermetic totality, foregrounding, in its stead, the fact that all literary production takes place in the presence of other texts. 19

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For Roland Barthes, who proclaimed the death of the author, it is the fact of intertexuality that allows the text to come into being: ď ą

Any text is a new tissue of past citations. Bits of code, formulae, rhythmic models, fragments of social languages, etc., pass into the text and are redistributed within it, for there is always language before and around the text. Intertextuality, the condition of any text whatsoever, cannot, of course, be reduced to a problem of sources or influences; the intertext is a general field of anonymous formulae whose origin can scarcely ever be located; of unconscious or automatic quotations, given without quotation marks. ("Theory of the Text" 1981).


Barthes’s theory of text involves the theory of intertextuality because the text offers a plurality of meanings and is also woven out of numerous already existing texts.

The text is not a unified, isolated object that gives a singular meaning, but an element open to various interpretations. (!) 21

Barthes emphasizes the role of the reader in the production of meaning, and he istinguished two types of readers:

On the one hand, “consumers” who read the work for stable meaning, and on the other hand, readers who are productive in their reading, which he called “writers of the text”.


The readers that engage themselves in the second kind of reading are, in Barthes words, doing “textual analysis,” in contrast with the more traditional “criticism.”

This practice of reading, seen as re-writing, is at the basis of Barthes theory of intertextuality.


One of the most widely-known features of intertextuality is Barthes’ claim of the “death of the Author”.

Barthes combines psychoanalytical and linguistic theories to argue that the origin of the text is not a unified authorial consciousness, but a plurality of other words, other utterances, and other texts. 24

Therefore, Barthes suggests that the meaning of the author’s words does not originate from the author’s own unique consciousness, but from the place of those words within linguistic and cultural systems.

The author has the role of a compiler, or arranger, of pre-existent possibilities within the language system.


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Each word, sentence, paragraph or whole text that the author produces takes its origins from the language system out of which it has been produced.

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Thus, the meanings are expressed in terms of the same system. The view of language expressed by Barthes in this way is what theorists have termed intertextual. 26

Function of Intertexuality ď Ž

Majority of the writers borrow ideas from the previous works to give a layer of meanings to their works.

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In fact, when readers read the new text with reflection of another literary work, all related assumptions, effects and ideas of other text provide them a different meaning and changes the technique of interpretation of the original piece. 27

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Since readers take influence from other texts, and while reading new texts they sift through archives, this device gives them relevance and clarifies their understanding of the new texts.

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For writers, intertextuality allows them to open new perspectives and possibilities to construct their story.


Additional examples and observations ď Ž

"Intertextuality seems such a useful term because it foregrounds notions of relationality, interconnectedness and interdependence in modern cultural life. In the Postmodern epoch, theorists often claim, it is not possible any longer to speak of originality or the uniqueness of the artistic object, be it a painting or novel, since every artistic object is so clearly assembled from bits and pieces of already existent art." (Graham Allen, Intertextuality. Routledge, 2000)


ď Ž

"Interpretation is shaped by a complex of relationships between the text, the reader, reading, writing, printing, publishing and history: the history that is inscribed in the language of the text and in the history that is carried in the reader's reading. Such a history has been given a name: intertextuality." (Jeanine Parisier Plottel and Hanna Kurz Charney, Introduction to Intertextuality: New Perspectives in Criticism. New York Literary Forum, 1978)


Two Types of Intertextuality ď Ž

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"We can distinguish between two types of intertextuality: iterability and presupposition. Iterability refers to the 'repeatability' of certain textual fragments, to citation in its broadest sense to include not only explicit allusions, references, and quotations within a discourse, but also unannounced sources and influences, cliches, phrases in the air, and traditions. That is to say, every discourse is composed of 'traces,' pieces of other texts that help constitute its meaning. . . .


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Presupposition refers to assumptions a text makes about its referent, its readers, and its context--to portions of the text which are read, but which are not explicitly 'there.' . . .

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'Once upon a time' is a trace rich in rhetorical presupposition, signaling to even the youngest reader the opening of a fictional narrative.


To conclude: ď Ž

Texts not only refer to but in fact contain other texts." (James E. Porter, "Intertextuality and the Discourse Community." Rhetoric Review, Fall 1986)


Ojv1, lesson 4  
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