Intertextuality is the shaping of a text's meaning by another text, either through deliberate compositional strategies such as quotation, allusion, calque, plagiarism, translation, pastiche or parody,[1][2][3][4][5] or by interconnections between similar or related works perceived by an audience or reader of the text.[6] These references are sometimes made deliberately and depend on a reader's prior knowledge and understanding of the referent, but the effect of intertextuality is not always intentional and is sometimes inadvertent. Often associated with strategies employed by writers working in imaginative registers (fiction, poetry, and drama and even non-written texts like performance art and digital media),[7][8] intertextuality is now understood to be intrinsic to any text.[9]

Intertextuality has been differentiated into referential and typological categories. Referential intertextuality refers to the use of fragments in texts and the typological intertextuality refers to the use of pattern and structure in typical texts.[10] A distinction can also be made between iterability and presupposition. Iterability makes reference to the "repeatability" of certain text that is composed of "traces", pieces of other texts that help constitute its meaning. Presupposition makes a reference to assumptions a text makes about its readers and its context.[11] As philosopher William Irwin wrote, the term "has come to have almost as many meanings as users, from those faithful to Julia Kristeva's original vision to those who simply use it as a stylish way of talking about allusion and influence".[12]

History

James Joyce's 1922 novel Ulysses bears an intertextual relationship to Homer's Odyssey.
James Joyce's 1922 novel Ulysses bears an intertextual relationship to Homer's Odyssey.

Julia Kristeva was the first to coin the term "intertextuality" (intertextualité) in an attempt to synthesize Ferdinand de Saussure's semiotics—his study of how signs derive their meaning within the structure of a text—with Bakhtin's dialogism—his theory which suggests a continual dialogue with other works of literature and other authors—and his examination of the multiple meanings, or "heteroglossia", in each text (especially novels) and in each word.[12] For Kristeva,[13] "the notion of intertextuality replaces the notion of intersubjectivity" when we realize that meaning is not transferred directly from writer to reader but instead is mediated through, or filtered by, "codes" imparted to the writer and reader by other texts. For example, when we read James Joyce's Ulysses we decode it as a modernist literary experiment, or as a response to the epic tradition, or as part of some other conversation, or as part of all of these conversations at once. This intertextual view of literature, as shown by Roland Barthes, supports the concept that the meaning of a text does not reside in the text, but is produced by the reader in relation not only to the text in question, but also the complex network of texts invoked in the reading process.

While the theoretical concept of intertextuality is associated with post-modernism, the device itself is not new. New Testament passages quote from the Old Testament and Old Testament books such as Deuteronomy or the prophets refer to the events described in Exodus (for discussions on using 'intertextuality' to describe the use of the Old Testament in the New Testament, see Porter 1997; Oropeza 2013; Oropeza & Moyise, 2016). Whereas a redaction critic would use such intertextuality to argue for a particular order and process of the authorship of the books in question, literary criticism takes a synchronic view that deals with the texts in their final form, as an interconnected body of literature. This interconnected body extends to later poems and paintings that refer to Biblical narratives, just as other texts build networks around Greek and Roman Classical history and mythology. Bullfinch's 1855 work The Age Of Fable served as an introduction to such an intertextual network;[citation needed] according to its author, it was intended "for the reader of English literature, of either sex, who wishes to comprehend the allusions so frequently made by public speakers, lecturers, essayists, and poets...".

Sometimes intertextuality is taken as plagiarism as in the case of Spanish writer Lucía Etxebarria whose poem collection Estación de infierno (2001) was found to contain metaphors and verses from Antonio Colinas. Etxebarria claimed that she admired him and applied intertextuality.[citation needed]

Post-structuralism

More recent post-structuralist theory, such as that formulated in Daniela Caselli's Beckett's Dantes: Intertextuality in the Fiction and Criticism (MUP 2005), re-examines "intertextuality" as a production within texts, rather than as a series of relationships between different texts. Some postmodern theorists[14] like to talk about the relationship between "intertextuality" and "hypertextuality" (not to be confused with hypertext, another semiotic term coined by Gérard Genette); intertextuality makes each text a "living hell of hell on earth"[15] and part of a larger mosaic of texts, just as each hypertext can be a web of links and part of the whole World-Wide Web. The World-Wide Web has been theorized as a unique realm of reciprocal intertextuality, in which no particular text can claim centrality, yet the Web text eventually produces an image of a community—the group of people who write and read the text using specific discursive strategies.[16]

One can also make distinctions between the notions of "intertext", "hypertext" and "supertext".[citation needed] Take for example the Dictionary of the Khazars by Milorad Pavić. As an intertext, it employs quotations from the scriptures of the Abrahamic religions. As a hypertext, it consists of links to different articles within itself and also every individual trajectory of reading it. As a supertext, it combines male and female versions of itself, as well as three mini-dictionaries in each of the versions.

Examples in literature

Some examples of intertextuality in literature include:

Types

Intertextuality and intertextual relationships can be separated into three types: obligatory, optional, and accidental.[19] These variations depend on two key factors: the intention of the writer and the significance of the reference. The distinctions between these types and those differences between categories are not absolute and exclusive, but instead are manipulated in a way that allows them to coexist within the same text.[20]

Obligatory

Obligatory intertextuality is when the writer deliberately invokes a comparison or association between two (or more) texts. Without this pre-understanding or success to 'grasp the link', the reader's understanding of the text is regarded as inadequate.[19] Obligatory intertextuality relies on the reading or understanding of a prior hypotext, before full comprehension of the hypertext can be achieved.[21]

As an example, Maria Mitchell analyzes the obligatory intertextuality of Tom Stoppard's Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead' with Shakespeare's Hamlet.[22] It is in Hamlet where we first meet Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, and as the plot of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead unravels, specific scenes from Hamlet are actually performed and viewed from a different perspective. According to Mitchell, this understanding of the hypotext, Hamlet, gives deeper meaning to the pretext as many of the implicit themes from Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are more recognizable.

Optional

Optional intertextuality has a less vital impact on the significance of the hypertext. It is a possible, but not essential, intertextual relationship that if recognized, the connection will slightly shift the understanding of the text.[19] Optional Intertextuality means it is possible to find a connection to multiple texts of a single phrase, or no connection at all.[23][page needed] The intent of the writer when using optional intertextuality is to pay homage to the 'original' writers, or to reward those who have read the hypotext. However, the reading of this hypotext is not necessary to the understanding of the hypertext.

The use of optional intertextuality may be something as simple as parallel characters or plotlines. According to Emily Keller, J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter series shares many similarities with J. R. R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings trilogy. Keller says that they both apply the use of an aging wizard mentor (Professor Dumbledore and Gandalf), and a key friendship group is formed to assist the protagonist (an innocent young boy) on his arduous quest to defeat a powerful wizard and to destroy a powerful being.[24]

Accidental

Accidental intertextuality is when readers often connect a text with another text, cultural practice or a personal experience, absent any tangible anchorpoint within the original text.[19] The writer has no intention of making an intertextual reference and it is completely upon the reader's own prior knowledge that these connections are made.[25] Often when reading a book or viewing a film a memory will be triggered in the viewers' mind. For example, when reading Herman Melville's Moby-Dick, a reader may use his or her prior experiences to make a connection between the size of the whale and the size of the ship.

Competing terms

Some critics have complained that the ubiquity of the term "intertextuality" in postmodern criticism has crowded out related terms and important nuances. Irwin (227) laments that intertextuality has eclipsed allusion as an object of literary study while lacking the latter term's clear definition.[12] Linda Hutcheon argues that excessive interest in intertextuality rejects the role of the author, because intertextuality can be found "in the eye of the beholder" and does not entail a communicator's intentions. By contrast, in A Theory of Parody Hutcheon notes parody always features an author who actively encodes a text as an imitation with critical difference.[26] However, there have also been attempts at more closely defining different types of intertextuality. The Australian media scholar John Fiske has made a distinction between what he labels 'vertical' and 'horizontal' intertextuality. Horizontal intertextuality denotes references that are on the 'same level', i.e., when books make references to other books, whereas vertical intertextuality is found when, say, a book makes a reference to film or song or vice versa.[27] Similarly, linguist Norman Fairclough distinguishes between 'manifest intertextuality' and 'constitutive intertextuality'.[28] The former signifies intertextual elements such as presupposition, negation, parody, irony, etc. The latter signifies the interrelationship of discursive features in a text, such as structure, form, or genre. Constitutive Intertextuality is also referred to interdiscursivity,[29] though, generally interdiscursivity refers to relations between larger formations of texts.

Related concepts

Linguist Norman Fairclough states that "intertextuality is a matter of recontextualization".[30] According to Per Linell, recontextualization can be defined as the "dynamic transfer-and-transformation of something from one discourse/text-in-context ... to another".[31] Recontextualization can be relatively explicit—for example, when one text directly quotes another—or relatively implicit—as when the "same" generic meaning is rearticulated across different texts.[32]: 132–133 

A number of scholars have observed that recontextualization can have important ideological and political consequences. For instance, Adam Hodges has studied how White House officials recontextualized and altered a military general's comments for political purposes, highlighting favorable aspects of the general's utterances while downplaying the damaging aspects.[33] Rhetorical scholar Jeanne Fahnestock has found that when popular magazines recontextualize scientific research they enhance the uniqueness of the scientific findings and confer greater certainty on the reported facts.[34] Similarly, John Oddo stated that American reporters covering Colin Powell's 2003 U.N. speech transformed Powell's discourse as they recontextualized it, bestowing Powell's allegations with greater certainty and warrantability and even adding new evidence to support Powell's claims.[32]

Oddo has also argued that recontextualization has a future-oriented counterpoint, which he dubs "precontextualization".[35] According to Oddo, precontextualization is a form of anticipatory intertextuality wherein "a text introduces and predicts elements of a symbolic event that is yet to unfold".[32]: 78  For example, Oddo contends, American journalists anticipated and previewed Colin Powell's U.N. address, drawing his future discourse into the normative present.

Allusion

While intertextuality is a complex and multileveled literary term, it is often confused with the more casual term 'allusion'. Allusion is a passing or casual reference; an incidental mention of something, either directly or by implication.[36] This means it is most closely linked to both obligatory and accidental intertextuality, as the 'allusion' made relies on the listener or viewer knowing about the original source. It is also seen as accidental, however, as the allusion is normally a phrase so frequently or casually used that the true significance is not fully appreciated. Allusion is most often used in conversation, dialogue or metaphor. For example, "I was surprised his nose was not growing like Pinocchio's." This makes a reference to The Adventures of Pinocchio, written by Carlo Collodi when the little wooden puppet lies.[37] If this was obligatory intertextuality in a text, multiple references to this (or other novels of the same theme) would be used throughout the hypertext.

Plagiarism

Intertextuality in art: "Nur eine Waffe taugt" (Richard Wagner, Parsifal, act III), by Arnaldo dell'Ira, ca. 1930
Intertextuality in art: "Nur eine Waffe taugt" (Richard Wagner, Parsifal, act III), by Arnaldo dell'Ira, ca. 1930

Sociologist Perry Share describes intertextuality as "an area of considerable ethical complexity".[38] Intertextuality does not necessarily involve citations or referencing punctuation (such as quotation marks) and can be mistaken for plagiarism.[23]: 86  While the two concepts are related, the intentions behind using another's work is critical in distinguishing the two. When making use of intertextuality, usually a small excerpt of a hypotext assists in the understanding of the new hypertext's original themes, characters, or contexts.[23][page needed] Aspects of existing texts are reused, often resulting in new meaning when placed in a different context.[39] Intertextuality revolves on the creation of new ideas, while plagiarism attempts to pass off existing work as one's own.

Students learning to write often rely on imitation or emulation and have not yet learned how to reformulate sources and cite them according to expected standards, and thus engage in forms of "patchwriting," which may be inappropriately penalized as intentional plagiarism.[40] Because the interests of writing studies differ from the interests of literary theory, the concept has been elaborated differently with an emphasis on writers using intertextuality to position their statement in relation to other statements and prior knowledge.[41] Students often find it difficult to learn how to combine referencing and relying on others' words with marking their novel perspective and contribution.[42]

Non-literary uses

In addition, the concept of intertextuality has been used analytically outside the sphere of literature and art. For example, Devitt (1991) examined how the various genres of letters composed by tax accountants refer to the tax codes in genre-specific ways.[43] In another example, Christensen (2016)[44] introduces the concept of intertextuality to the analysis of work practice at a hospital. The study shows that the ensemble of documents used and produced at a hospital department can be said to form a corpus of written texts. On the basis of the corpus, or subsections thereof, the actors in cooperative work create intertext between relevant (complementary) texts in a particular situation, for a particular purpose. The intertext of a particular situation can be constituted by several kinds of intertextuality, including the complementary type, the intratextual type and the mediated type. In this manner the concept of intertext has had an impact beyond literature and art studies.

In scientific and other scholarly writing intertextuality is core to the collaborative nature of knowledge building and thus citation practices are important to the social organization of fields, the codification of knowledge, and the reward system for professional contribution.[45] Scientists can be skillfully intentional in the use of references to prior work in order to position the contribution of their work.[46][47] Modern practices of scientific citation, however, have only developed since the late eighteenth century[48] and vary across fields, in part influenced by disciplines’ epistemologies.[49]

See also

References

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