On Being Intertextual

A most cogent explanation of intertext and its relation to social experience.

Michael Rosen
Trying to Catch the Moments
The Helen E. Stubbs Memorial Lecture No. 23

I think that’s our job, really: to think of questions about poems we don’t now the answers to. I think that one question we can ask is, “Does this poem, or anything in this poem, remind you of anything that’s ever happened to you?” So, there’s a question you can’t know the answer to. […] Or you could say, “Is there anything in this poem that reminds you of anything that you’ve ever read, or seen on TV, or seen in a film?” And, if you like, there’s a theory behind that as well, which is: what we’re talking about here is the children’s “intertext”, the texts in their lives. And that’s partly what we respond with. Yes, as with my first question, we respond with our experience (the things that happen to us) but also with the texts that we’ve come across. Again, it doesn’t matter whether you’re three or ninety-three, you have a “textual repertoire”, and that’s what you, in part respond with. In fact, there’s an argument for saying that some or even all our experience is “textualized”, that is, made into texts in our heads as we think, or at the moment of our describing them, but we can leave that to one side here.

This, too, from notes for session at Goldsmiths with Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) students

Intertextuality is the process by which, and how we know and share texts, how texts incorporate other texts, how texts contribute to other texts.


In many circumstances, intertextuality is the secret process lying behind our critical comments.

And so for day 3024

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