Old knowledge:

·         Vygotsky’s “web of meaning” – Poststructuralists label Text or Writing; distant age knew as logos p. 34

·         Intertext is Text – a great seamless textual fabric p .34

·         Intertextuality has been associated with structuralism and poststructuralism – Barthes, Kristeva, Derrida, Hayden, White, Bloom, Foucault, Riffaterre p. 35

·         Vincent Leitch – “The text is not an autonomous or unified object, but a set of relations with other texts. Its system of language, its grammar, its lexicon, drag along numerous bits and pieces—traces—of history so that the text resembles a Cultural Salvation Army Outlet with unaccountable collections of incompatible ideas, beliefs, and sources p. 35

·         The traditional notion of text – Single book by an author, or the notion of author and reader-convenient fictions for domesticating discourse p. 35

·         Those who prefer a broader conception of intertext or who look beyond the intertext to the social framework regulating textual production: Foucault – “the discursive formation”; Fish – “the interpretive community;” and Bizzell – “the discourse community” p. 38

·         Poststructuralist perspective – Classical assumption that writing is a simple, linear, one-way movement: The writer creates a text which produces some change in an audience p. 40


·         Intertextuality provides rhetoric with an important perspective, one currently neglected p. 34

·         Authorial intention is less significant than social context; the writer is simply a part of a discourse tradition, a member of a team, and a participant in a community of discourse that creates its own collective meaning. Thus intertext constrains writing p. 35

Question of inquiry:

·         Porter seeks to explicate intertextuality and its relationship(?) to the idea of discourse community(ies)

Purpose of writing:

·         Porter wants to demonstrate the significance of this theory of rhetoric, by explaining intertextuality, its connections to the notion of “discourse community,” and its pedagogical implications for composition p. 35

New knowledge (major thesis & key points):

Two types of intertextuality:

1.      Iterability – 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 p. 35

2.      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” p. 35

·         Writing is an attempt to exercise the will, to identify the self within the constraints of some discourse community. P. 41

·         Constrained by – Borrowing the traces, codes, and signs which we inherit and which our discourse community imposes p. 41

·         Intertextuality is not new p. 41

·         To what extent is the writer’s product itself a part of a larger community writing process? How does the discourse influence writers and readers in it? P. 42

·         Intertextuality suggests that our goal should be to help students learn to write for the discourse communities they choose to join. Students need help developing out of what Joseph Williams calls their “pre-socialized cognitive states” p. 42

·         Pre-socialized writers are not sufficiently immersed in their discourse community to produce competent discourse: They do not know what can be presupposed, are not consciousness of the distinctive intertextuality of the community, may be only superficially acquainted with explicit conventions p. 42

·         Intertextuality has the potential to affect all facets of our composition pedagogy p. 42

·         Rethink our ideas about plagiarism p. 42

·         Current pedagogies assume that when writers analyze audiences they should focus on the expected flesh-and-blood readers. Intertextuality suggests that the proper focus of audience analysis is not the audience as receivers per se, but the intertext of the discourse community pp. 42-43

The two problems of doing a critical reading of discourse communities:

1.      Limited range – generally overemphasize literary or expressive discourse p. 43

2.      Unclear context – frequently remove readings from their original contexts, thus disguising the intertextual nature p. 43

·         Notable: 1 – Maimon’s Readings in the arts and sciences; 2 - Kinneavy’s Writing in the liberal arts tradition; and 3 – Bazerman’s The informed writer p. 43

·         Writing assignments should be explicitly intertextual p. 43

·         Dialectic nature of writing assignments within discourse communities p. 43

·         More community oriented than topic oriented p. 43

·         Intertextual theory suggests that the key criteria for evaluating writing should be “acceptability” within the discourse community – including (but goes beyond) adherence to formal conventions, choosing he “right topic,” applying the appropriate critical methodology, adhering to standards for evidence and validity, and in general adopting the community’s discourse values—and of course borrowing the appropriate traces p .43

·         Students need see writers whose products are more evidently part of a larger process and whose work more clearly produces meaning in social contexts p. 44

Methodology(ies) used:

·         Porter examines three texts to illustrate the various facets of intertextuality:

·         Text 1 – The Declaration of Independence (borrowing from other texts, Locke)

·         Text 2 – A Pepsi commercial (borrowing from other forums, the movie Close Encounters of the Third Kind)

·         Text 3 – John Kifner’s New York Times article – reporting on the Kent State incident of 1970 (“two of them women,” presupposes a sexist attitude, but also uses of other words, such as “volley” and “lobbed,” suggesting something distinctly American)

·         All texts “borrowed” something from somewhere else (other texts, as well as ideas) pp. 36-38


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