Textuality, Intertextuality

Intertextuality is

  • the network of relations among texts and textual interpretations
  • the ways relationships among texts influence (1) the production and (2) the interpretation of texts.

Key Words: Communication; Hermeneutics; Semiotics; Text, Composition; Textual Research; Textual Analysis; Symbol Analyst.

Textuality is broader than “meaning” because it has to do with the material and social conditions for the production and dissemination of texts. Often called intertextuality, it is “the recursive interplay among groups of texts.

Scholars don’t really think of texts as isolated from other texts. Rather, they see texts as being conceptually networked to other texts—as one instance of an ongoing conversation. Of course this is obvious when an author quotes, paraphrases, summarizes, translates, and/or satirizes other texts. But texts can also be influenced by other texts in more subtle ways.

Writers, speakers, symbol analysts—and so on—cannot but help be influenced by what they’ve read. That’s natural. We filter our interpretation of texts based on our observations and past experiences as readers. We use our past knowledge of genre to understand and compose texts.

People who study communication and research methodologies tend to think of texts as socio-cultural-historical, networked artifacts. This conception of texts is tied to the epistemological assumption that meaning doesn’t reside solely in an individual text but rather in the relationship a text has with past texts. Scholars create and test new knowledge claims by referencing and discussing past research and scholarship (see Scholarship as a Conversation).

Recommended Resources


Erickson, A. (2017, April 24). What ‘personal space’ looks like around the world. The Washington Post. Retrieved June 6, 2018, from https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2017/04/24/how-close-is-too-close-depends-on-where-you-live/?utm_term=.137d9248a29d 


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