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“Intertextuality and the Discourse Community” Analysis Essay

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Updated: May 29th, 2021

In his article, Porter suggests an overview of intertextuality in connection with the discourse community (34). The scholar remarks that there is one perspective provided by intertextuality to the rhetoric that has been underestimated for a long time. He notes that composition pedagogies are wrong when they view the writer as a “free, uninhibited spirit” and “creative genius” (Porter 34). Thus, the scholar explains the importance of the interconnection between intertextuality and the discourse community.

As Porter mentions, such scholars as Foucault, Kristeva, Riffaterre, Barthes, and others relate intertextuality both to structuralism and poststructuralism (35). The core argument made by these critics is that text is not an autonomous object but a collection of connections with other texts (Porter 35). Porter remarks that these scholars are interested not in text as the autonomous entity but in the “unaccountable collections” (35). Porter identifies two types of intertextuality: presupposition and iterability (35). Presupposition involves the assumptions made by in-text about its referent. Iterability is defined as the “repeatability” of particular fragments of the text (Porter 35). Porter relates such phenomena to the ability of discourse to contain pieces of other texts which help to establish its meaning (35).

To illustrate his opinion of the intertext, Porter analyzes three sample texts: the Declaration of Independence, a Pepsi commercial, and a headline article from The New York Times (36-38). The author remarks that each of these texts incorporates images or phrases common to its audience. Another feature of the texts is that they presume some points of view from the reader. Thus, Porter concludes that the intertext utilizes its impact partially in the representation of readers’ attitudes (38).

When defining discourse community, Porter mentions that it is a group of people connected by a common interest who interact through approved routes and whose discourse is being supervised (38-39). A person may be a part of several public, professional, or personal discourse communities. The approved routes are “forums” (Porter 39). Each of these forums has a specific history and sets the requirements that should be adhered to by its members. A discourse community may share opinions on what objects are suitable for the analysis and discussion, what roles are played by these objects, and what creates validity and evidence (Porter 39). Also, it is noted that a discourse community may have a well-grounded ethos. Some communities are well-established, such as the justice system or the scientific community. To be able to talk in these groups, one has to be well-educated and aware of the community’s peculiarities.

In his analysis of the pedagogy of intertextuality, Porter remarks that this concept is related to Eliot’s definition of tradition (41). Intertextuality is regarded as a crucial notion and constitutes a “prevailing composition pedagogy” that favors the writers’ romantic image and suggests creative essayists as role models (Porter 41). The author notes that although such a romantic image may satisfy one’s need for “intellectual heroes,” it may have an anti-rhetorical view in its basis (Porter 41). This view argues that writers are not made but born and that writing is “individual, isolated, and internal” (Porter 41). Porter mentions that the best way to understand the community is to perform a critical reading of its discourse (43). Porter suggests significant opinions on intertextuality and discourse community employing a variety of examples to illustrate his views.

Work Cited

Porter, James E. “Intertextuality and the Discourse Community.” Rhetoric Review, vol. 5, no. 1, 1986, pp. 34-47.

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