2402 intertextuality


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Matt Hills

The concept of intertextuality has been signifi
cant within a range of theoretical debates (Orr
2003). Though often assumed to be a matter of
one text directly citing or quoting material
from another, intertextuality has also been the
orized as underpinning the general condition of
textuality itself. As French structuralist Julia

Kristeva (1969) argues: Every text takes shape
as a mosaic of citations. This has become a
crucial concept in structuralist attacks on the
authority of the author (Barthes 1977; Allen
2000). It is argued that language and textuality,
as structuring systems, should form the proper
objects of analysis, and not authorial agency.
Intertextualitys importance has not been
restricted to structuralist debates, for it has also
played a key role in definitions of the postmo
dern condition ( Jameson 1985; Allen 2000). In
Fredric Jamesons influential account, a specific
type of intertextuality thought of as a form of
imitation characterizes postmodernism: Pas
tiche is . . . the imitation of a peculiar or unique
style . . . but it is a neutral practice of such mimi
cry . . . Pastiche is blank parody ( Jameson 1985:
114). Here, intertextuality becomes an endemic
social and cultural condition in postmodernism:
signs, codes, and texts are subject to constant
repetition, without any sense of parody as a
critical or reflexive discourse. Instead, styles and
texts are seemingly reiterated and re repre
sented, cut adrift from their original contexts
and endlessly recombined as pastiche.
However, this criticism lacks sociological
context itself. Writers such as Collins (1989)
and Lash (1990) have engaged more precisely
with the sociology of postmodern intertex
tuality. Collins (1989) analyses how inter
textual arenas operate in genre fiction, sug
gesting that authors and texts can position
themselves in relation to their generic predeces
sors. Thus, texts such as detective fictions may
bid for literary value by linking themselves to
literary discourse, while others may seek delib
erately to mix discourses, combining High
Art and pop cultural intertextualities so as to
destabilize the cultural authority of the former,
rather than simply deploying its cultural and
social prestige. Moving this debate on, Lash
(1990) argues that the wide ranging intertex
tuality of postmodern culture may simply reflect
the distinctive cultural capital of new middle
class groups of consumers those who are able
to spot many popular and elite cultural refer
ences. Indeed, we could go so far as to suggest
that types of intertextuality carry intertextual
cultural capital (Hills 2005): they specifically
target educated, specialized, and highly media
literate audiences.