Kitzer essay

What is intertextuality? How does intertextuality challenge . Hirsch’s idea that a text has a single meaning created by its author? Explain with reference to examples drawn from any media format.


According to American literary critic, . Hirsch, in order to interpret a body of text, one must ask one’s self the only question that can be answered objectively – “what, in all probability, did the author mean to convey?” He believed that the author’s intended meaning equates the meaning of a text and it is in fact, the reader’s duty to uncover the the author’s intentions.

“The meaning of a text and its author’s intentions are one and the same.”

Hirsch’s concept revolves around the assumption that a body of text is original, and is purely a body of the author’s sole “intentions”. The production of text, if one were to adhere to Hirsch’s theory, is therefore exclusive to the author’s own ideas and concepts and free of external influence. However, the notions of langue and parole disputes this idea. According to Barthes in 1984, “It [la langue] is the social part of language, the individual cannot himself either create or modify it”.
Furthermore, Ferdinand de Saussure’s work on structuralism and semiotics demonstrates the subjectivity of language and can be said to have sewn the seeds for modern concepts of intertextuality (such as those developed by Roland Barthes and Julia Kristeva). Intertextuality challenges the idea of a text’s ability to be truly original and therefore disagrees with Hirsch’s theory. In this essay, I will focus on how conscious intertextuality as well as the semiotics involved in unconscious intertextuality both dispute the idea that the meaning of a text belongs exclusively to its author’s intentions.

Julia Kristeva, who was the first to use the term “intertextuality”, proposed the idea that a text should not be interpreted merely by its words at face value, but also studied based on other works it has adapted and was influenced by. The concept can be further expanded upon by Gunther Kress’ notion of “ceaseless semiosis” which brings to light the social aspect of a text’s creation.

“From the beginning, I use materials which I have encountered before, which bear the meanings of their social contexts, to weave a new text which, because it is woven from materials of other texts, everywhere and always connects with those other te...


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...mpaigns, can now be seen as the qualities Bridget desires by smoking Silk Cut.
Once again, Hirsch’s idea of a text bearing only one singular meaning can be easily disputed. The interpretation of the Silk Cut advertisement, as well as the use of Silk Cut cigarettes in Bridget Jones’s Diary, is highly subjective and dependent on the reader’s cultural literacy and existing knowledge.

Intertextuality in the media, both print and otherwise, has become too powerful to ignore, especially in this day and age. The internet, satirical texts, advertisements and books are only some examples that demonstrate the effects other works and a reader’s prior knowledge have on any given text. Intertextuality in its various states, conscious and unconscious, is certainly a valid contention against the theory of . Hirsch.


Bibliography, References & Notes
1) Cultural Consumption and Everyday Life”, Reading As Production, John Storey, Pg 63, Arnold, London, 1999

2) Intertextuality, , Pg 9, Routledge, London 2000
3) http://
4) http://
5) http:///howtodressemo
6) http://
7) Reading Ads Socially. Goldman. R, Routledge, London, 1992
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Kitzer essay

kitzer essay

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