Intertextuality 3: the Death of the Author


Learner Profile


Lang and Lit Concept:


Guiding Conceptual Questions: Intertextuality

  • How do texts adhere to and deviate from conventions associated with literary forms or text types?
  • How do conventions and systems of reference evolve over time?

Alternative Advertising

Media technologies enabling a message to be sent from one to many, and continually developing broadcast technologies means that mass communication has become more widespread, more effective and more accessible both for the producer and those on the receiving end. Some might argue it has also become more insidious. The line between producer and receiver is becoming increasingly unclear. The media increasingly requires our participation in the proliferation of media content and potentially contributing to it in our own way. Watch Generation Like (above) and find out more about the forms of alternative advertising described below:

Viral marketing is a method of communication that uses social structures and web-based social networking to distribute its message. Like a virus that can find a host and then spread out to others the mass media message is carried through word-of-mouth, links, or other form of media sharing. Viral marketing can be seen as an extreme form of consumer choice as it may create the illusion of freedom and private action. But when you share that link with your friend you should ask whether you are participating in genuinely selecting a cultural product that you want to promote, or are you being manipulated into acting as a carrier or an agent for an exploitative corporation? 

Ambient and guerilla advertising originated from clever ways of sponsoring events or branding products. They often rely on using physical shapes and space to create a memorable experience for the consumer. They are interesting to study for two reasons: their meaning is often dependent upon the use of perspective; they blur the line between producer and receiver more than any other form of advertisement. In many cases it can be argued that, until they are ‘read’ they have no meaning. The receiver plays a vital part in the ‘completion’ of the text. Guerilla advertising can also be controversial, as often the participants are taking part involuntarily, raising interesting ethical questions.  

Class Activity

Watch the examples of guerrilla advertising in the links below. In what ways do these adverts ‘blur the line between producer and receiver’?

Learner Portfolio

Young people are the subject of Generation Like – how do you respond to the issues raised in the film? Write a one-two page journal entry outlining your thoughts about, for example… .

Plagiarism or Intertextuality?

Plagiarism is defined as the close imitation or purloining and publication of another authors work, ideas or expressions and representing them as your own. Intertextuality is defined as the shaping of one text’s meaning through other texts, either through referencing or by borrowing and transforming that work into something different.

But looking at the two definitions, how far apart are plagiarism and intertextuality really? In a post-modern age so much media in all its forms are a hybrid or pastiche of what has been before, with Frankenstein-like efficiency, media is chopped up from all eras and blended together to make something new, while paying homage to the narrative which informed it.

The following resources debate this idea by looking at the relationship of Mr Brainwash’s artwork with his ‘inspirations’, Banksy and Andy Warhol. Read the articles and interviews here, and come to your own conclusions about where to draw the line between plagiarism and intertextuality:

Learner Portfolio

The difference between copying and stealing is a matter of imitation versus inspiration. The distinction is intent. Imitation is laziness and refusal to accept your influences. The counter is inspiration – recognizing your influences and, in turn, creating something new through those ideas. Which side of the debate do you fall on with regards to Mr Brainwash? Write up your response as the text for a punchy one-two page magazine spread in reply to the article posted above.

The Written Word and Reading in the Digital Age

Fittingly, one of the oldest surviving written works tells the story of man’s quest to become immortal. It is the Sumerian epic of Gilgamesh, the legend of an actual historical king who ruled a city-state in the land of present-day Iraq around 2500 BCE. King Gilgamesh, saddened by the death of his best friend and brooding over the inevitability of own death, exchanges his robes for animal skins and descends into the underworld in search of secret of immortality. Gilgamesh’s quest ended, as all such quests ultimately do, in death. Even the king’s great city has crumbled into dust. Yet here we are, still talking about him more than 4000 years later.

Mass communication has come a long way since Sumerian times when this story was carved onto twelve tablets of clay. But the desire for people to preserve through writing, and others to discover through reading, hasn’t gone the way of Gilgamesh. Find out about the development of writing (mankind’s most important invention? – discuss) and find out what reading and writing might look like in the future. An important concept to think about as you work is Marshall McLuhan’s idea that the medium is the message. What implications does this have on the knowledge and understanding we gain through reading and writing in different ways? 

  • Death of the Book
  • Decoding the Medium is the Message
  • How We Will Read
  • I Read Where I Am
  • In the Beginning Was The Word
  • Opening Lines
  • Reading in a Whole New Way
  • Spreading the Word
  • The Birth of Writing
  • What is the Meaning of The Medium is the Message

Learner Portfolio

Write a one-two page journal entry giving your opinions about the future of reading and/or writing. For example, do you foresee the end of the printed book? Will people still be using pen and paper in the future? Present any of the ideas you found thought-provoking while engaged in this case study.