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ENG 110 - Intertextuality  

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How Texts are Inter-related Print Page

Definition: Intertextuality

  • Intertextuality
    The relationship of texts to one another.
  • "What Is Intertextuality?" from UWM
    1-page pdf exploring the meaning and usefulness of understanding intertextuality. From the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Originality & Intertextuality

“Almost every word and phrase we use we have heard or seen before. Our originality and craft as writers come from how we put those words together in new ways to fit our specific situation, needs, and purposes, but we always need to rely on the common stock of language we share with others” (83).

“We create our texts out of the sea of former texts that surround us, the sea of language we live in. And we understand the texts of others within that same sea” (83-84).

Bazerman, Charles, and Paul Prior. eds. What Writing Does and How It Does It: An Introduction to Analyzing Texts and Textual Practices. Routledge, 2003.


Intertextuality of Sources

“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, clichés, 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. . .

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." For example, as Jonathan Culler discusses, the phrase "John married Fred's sister" is an assertion that logically presupposes that John exists, that Fred exists, and that Fred has a sister. "Open the door" contains a practical presupposition, assuming the presence of a decoder who is capable of being addressed and who is better able to open the door than the encoder." Once upon a time" is a trace rich in rhetorical presupposition, signaling to even the youngest reader the opening of a fictional narrative. Texts not only refer to but in fact contain other texts” (35-36).

Excerpted from: Porter, James E. “Intertextuality and Discourse Community.” Rhetoric Review, vol. 5, no. 1, Fall 1986, pp. 34-47.


What Writing Does & How It Does It (Bazerman)

Bazerman, Charles. "Intertextuality: How Texts Rely on Other Texts." 

What Writing Does and How It Does It: An Introduction to Analyzing Texts and Textual Practices, edited by Charles Bazerman & Paul A. Prior, 2004, pp. 83-96.


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