Spring for 2017-2018
"The word in language is half someone else's…[I]t exists in other people's mouths, in other people's contexts, serving other people's intentions: it is from there that one must take the word, and make it one's own."
“All languaging is..taking old language and pushing it into new contexts.”
“Social groups seem to be bound primarily by a shared repertoire of prior texts.”
Intertextuality is a notion that has become widely used as a theoretical framework within the field of literary criticism since it was first named as such by Kristeva (1974), drawing on Bakhtin (1965, 1973, see also 1981). Over the past twenty years or so, linguists have joined scholars in anthropology, the visual arts and music in their fascination with intertextuality; prior texts are seen to be important to general linguistic theory as well as to an understanding of textual meaning and the discursive construction of identity, master narratives, and ideology. But the theoretical approaches and the types of texts used in these fields are often so different as to make one believe that any similarity begins and ends with the label ‘intertextuality’.
It is the aim of this course to attempt to bridge the chasm at the intersection of these disciplinary approaches as we attempt to move the notion of ‘intertextuality’ from that of a multidisciplinary nature (i.e., of interest to different disciplines) to that of an interdisciplinary nature (i.e., drawing on and synthesizing the analyses of different disciplines). After becoming familiar with foundational works on intertextuality, students will collect spoken and/or written texts and use these to ground their emerging understanding of intertextuality. As we begin to operationalize the notion of intertextuality, we will grapple with a variety of issues due, in part, to disciplinary differences across the fields of linguistics, anthropology, literary criticism, and the arts. Three of the most critical issues to be addressed early will be 1) the definition of ‘text’ and, subsequently, of ‘intertextuality’; 2) the problematization of the notion of ‘author/speaker’; and 3) the role of ‘author/speaker’ meaning and intentionality within intertextual studies.
In previous semesters of this course, students have investigated the interconnections that exist across spoken, written, and visual texts (both public and private discourse) as well as the ways in which people use these interconnections to do things in the world. Their projects have examined the linguistic construction of identity in family discourse and in personal blogs, the construction of autism within personal and institutional webpages, the intertextual origins of public opinion in published media, the role of master narratives related to pregnancy within pregnancy magazines, how meaning is accomplished in Japanese tanka poetry, the construction of racism in everyday narratives, and the achievement of humor in a variety of contexts, including improvisational theater, children’s animated films, television shows and comic strips.
Prerequisites: At least one course in discourse analysis or permission of instructor
Other academic years
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