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Intertextuality in Digital Poetry

Critical Writing
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2008
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Abstract (in English): 

Despite postmodern and deconstructivist studies in the field, interxtuality is still often viewed as a process of textual closure: in that vision a text refers to an older text, and once we have found the source, the intertextual interpretation is completed.

Riffatterre, for example, seems to suggest this in his article ‘Intertextuality vs Hypertextuality’ (1994). Riffaterre stated here that intertextuality and hypertextuality should be distinguished, since the former is finite, while the latter is infinite. He defines hypertextuality as ‘the use of the computer to transcend the linearity of the written text by building an endless series of imagined connections, from verbal associations to possible worlds, extending the glosses or the marginalia from the footnotes of yesteryear to metatexts’ (Riffaterre 1994: 780) Intertextuality, on the other hand, ‘depends on a system of difficulties to be reckoned with, of limitations in our freedom of choice, of exclusions, since it is by renouncing incompatible associations within the text that we come to identify in the intertext their compatible counterparts’ (ibid: 781).

I would like to demonstrate how this vision of intertextuality does not apply in electronic literature. Instead of ‘limitations’ and ‘incompatible associations’ some cases of e-poetry that will be showed and interpreted should emphasise how intertextuality in these texts is rather the explosion of meanings and of possibilities than a way of ‘exclusion’. Three of these ‘new’ functions of intertexuality in digital poetry shall be proposed and discussed in my presentation.

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Eric Dean Rasmussen