Intertextuality and the Discourse Community

  • Porter J
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According to this view, authorial intention is less significant than social
context; the writer is simply a part of a discourse tradition, a member of a team,
and a participant in a community of discourse that creates its own collective
meaning. Thus the intertext constrains writing (Porter 35)

Iterability refers to the "repeatability" of certain textual
fragments, to citation in its broadest sense to include not only explicit allusions,
references, and quotations within a discourse, but also unannounced sources
and influences, cliches, phrases in the air, and traditions. That is to say, every
discourse is composed of "traces," pieces of other texts that help constitute its
Meaning (Porter 35)

A "discourse community" is a group of individuals bound by a common
interest who communicate through approved channels and whose discourse is
regulated. (Porter 38-39)

A discourse community shares assumptions about what objects are appropri-
ate for examination and discussion, what operating functions are performed on
those objects, what constitutes "evidence" and "validity," and what formal con-
ventions are followed. (Porter 39)

Both examples point to the exclusionary power of discourse communities
and raise serious questions about the freedom of the writer: chiefly, does the
writer have any? Is any writer doomed to plagiarism? Can any text be said to be
new? Are creativity and genius actually possible? (Porter 40)

Every new text has the potential to alter the Text in
some way; in fact, every text admitted into a discourse community changes the
constitution of the community-and discourse communities can revise their
discursive practices (41)

of what Joseph Williams calls their "pre-socialized cognitive states."
According to Williams, pre-socialized writers are not sufficiently immersed in
their discourse community to produce competent discourse: They do not know
what can be presupposed, are not conscious of the distinctive intertextuality of
the community, may be only superficially acquainted with explicit conventions (42)

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  • James E. Porter

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