Intertextuality is a pervasive and inescapable textual characteristic. Famously discussed by Roland Barthes, intertextuality is the idea that Individual texts always refer to each other; and the web of interlinked references, similarities, echoes, constitute what we call intertext. However, intertextuality paradoxically makes apparent that meaning is not only in the text. Barthes makes this point when he talks about the relationship of connotative vs. denotative meanings. Intertextuality is ideological, and when we look at intertexts, we cannot ignore their social, cultural and political context. An intertext is not just a semiotic structure, but a social and situated one.
Intertextuality is an important concept in audience studies. Meaning is not to be found in the text independently of its readers; audiences use intertextuality to construct ideologically significant meanings. Audiences are active participants in not just decoding the meaning of a text, but actually co-creating it. Audiences actively construct ideological meanings within individual texts, and intertextually produce an overall web of meaning across several texts. Interpretation creates meaning, which in turn create new texts that contribute to the overall intertextual structure. This process of meaning-making is cumulative, open-ended and inclusive: texts generate meanings generate texts, connected in an intertextual contruction. A particular way of creating texts/meanings occurs when audiences literally produce new texts, adding their own contribution to the intertextual web.
- Allen, G. (2003). Ch.5 “The Death of the Author” and ch. 6 “Textuality” in Roland Barthes. London: Routledge. pp.63-93.
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