CTP-748: Seminar Discussion: Week 7

Lily Hughes

Intertextuality and Global Dystopia: The Significance of 2019

If you want, you can just mute and play them all at once.

... there's more that didn't make the cut.

Brittany Coombs

"The Boondocks": Referencing/reimagining TV, film, music, historical figures/moments

You can get the point of any of the clips just by watching the first 20 seconds or so, but the second clip is probably a good summation of how the show executes its great hybrid style. Like Lily I left a lot on the cutting room floor. (Like this and this.)

Stephanie Stroud

Adagio for Strings: Baroque Classical ~ Trance

Daniel Chandler's reading highlights the issue of authorship, which he claims is problematized by theorists (and more obviously perhaps, by artists today, as Girltalk's legal mixings demonstrates). True to Barthe's assertion that 'A text is... a multidimensional space in which a variety of writings, none of them original, blend and clash," Adagio for Strings is both a classical masterpiece, as well as a trance masterpiece (Tiesto, 2005). Wikipedia states, "The Adagio in G minor for violin, strings and organ continuo, is a neo-Baroque composition popularly misattributed to the 18th century Venetian master Tomaso Albinoni, but in fact composed entirely by the 20th century musicologist and Albinoni biographer Remo Giazotto." And if you look up Adagio for Strings (same song), Wikipedia tells you that Samuel Barber composed this modernist piece in 1936. Regardless of when, how or by whom, this beautiful piece was created, one can see correlations in the musical character of the baroque and trance renditions – both rely heavily on layering simple patterns to create increasingly complex patterns, leading up to a musical climax.

Good! And the accrual of contexts and cultural reception of the music is now part of its meaning. It's a node in a network, and other cultural works also connect to it. The network of associations and contexts shows that there's "work in itself" outside of its position in a network.

--Martin Irvine

Inglorious Basterds: European war film + American western

Another example of intertextuality is Quintin Tarantino's film Inglorious Basterds. Having Grown up in a family that has a very pronounced interest in WWII history, I have seen many American WWII films, and Inglorious Basterds is (very) unlike any of them. It seems that Tarantino calls upon a more classically European genre of war films, paying great attention to depicting the suffocating fear that gripped the war-ravaged people of Europe. That is to say, unlike classical American war films that focus on the epic bravery of the Allied forces, Taranito puts much more of an emphasis on the civilians effected by the Nazi terror.

Tarantino takes as much liberty with reworking the end of Hitler as he does with depicting the Allied forces – the Basterds. The epic heroism of "the greatest generation", a key ingredient to the "American War" genre, is replaced by the vigilante-Americana of all the greatest Westerns. Tarantio has caked "American" onto Brad Pitt's character so think – accent, lack of cultural awareness, languages – viewers are forced to rethink the image of the American forces. When I hear Brad Pitt say in his ridiculous accent, "and I want my scalps", I think of Bakhtin's statement: "[t]he word in language… becomes one’s "own" only when the speaker populates it with his own intentions, his own accent, when he appropriates the word, adapting it to his own semantic and expressive intention."

Shakira's Dance Style ≠ belly dancing or Latin dancing, but rather some belly dancing, some Latin dancing and some modern pop choreography

Yet another example of intertextuality that comes to mind is Shakira. Having studied belly dancing and latin dancing, I have become acutely aware of Shakira's hybrid style. Every belly dancing teacher I have ever had points out that we are not to pop out our tail bones like Shakira (which gives the effect of "sexing up" the dance) – holding your body in this way is not only incorrect in the tradition of Raqs Sharqi (belly dancing), it is really bad for your back! Furthermore, popping out your tail bone spoils much of the "work out" component of belly dancing since you no longer focus on isolating your movements and strengthening your core muscles. Umberto Eco, however, would probably argue that Shakira is not doing anything correctly or incorrectly, she is simply dancing differently – outside the tradition of raqs sharqi. Thus Shakira's dance style can only be viewed as incorrect from a specific perspective: that of a practitioner of the classical style of raqs sharqi.

Classical Raqs Sharqi

The Cha Cha

(Pop Choreography – in just about every every sexed-up, showy music video)

And finally, take a fair amount of Raqs Sharqi, some Latin dance moves, a liberal pinch of pop choreography, and we have some Shakira dance moves. In the attached music video (Hips Don't Lie), 0:27-0:30 is an example of "correct" belly dancing, while 1:09-1:13 is a prime example of "incorrect" Shakira style dancing.

Siyang Wu

Intertextuality is such a fascinating word, with out which I can even image what novel, song, movie and other artistic works, especially film. I take it as the collection of music, literature, visual art and etc..Every element in the film need understanding of prior and contemporary works. Intermediality is an essential character of film, it is represented more obvious by film.
The Lost Thing is this year’s Oscar best short animated film. Element used in this animations by director try to lead you to the answer, what the lost thing really is. What interesting is that there is no fixed answer, it depends on an audience’s understanding, self-experience, association of ideas. Without audience’s interpretation, any sentence, any piece of music, any animation is meaningless. For me, the lost thing means childhood memory. In the animation, the ordered building, busy crowd,and factories represent our developed modern society, and “the lost things” in different shapes, such as TV set, teakettle, just what we were interested in but lose our interests today. However, the lost thing can be any things to other people. Its meaning depends on addressee.

Some text in the film express the truly idea of it. For instance, without understand the meaning and story of “Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind”, an audience could just say he understand his own Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. “Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind” is originally from the poem, Eloisa to Abelard, a work of an 18 century British poet, Alexander Pope. And the inspiration of this poem was a love story between Eloisa and Abelard, who loved each other but had to be separated in 12 century. In Alexander Pope’s creation, he also involved his own experience and feeling to the desperation in Eloisa and Abelard’s story. Pope who was disabled and short failed to enjoy a passionate love in his life.

“How happy is the blameless vestal's lot!
The world forgetting, by the world forgot.
Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind!
Each pray'r accepted, and each wish resign'd;”

Though the movie has a happy ending, but in the movie,the author describe an absurd dilemma in human life.

Zachary Allard

“What History, our History, allows us today is merely to slide, to vary, to exceed, to repudiate.” -Barthes

The ideas of intertextuality that translate so well into intermediality are tremendously important to understanding the nature and evolution of contemporary media. Intermediality is not just an important feature of contemporary media but arguably its very essence and being. The evolution and ontological nature of film is the perfect example of how fundamental intermediality is to contemporary visual media.

Film does not merely exist in intertextual relationships with other audio/visual media of the last hundred years. Irvine describes intermediality as a system in which, “New works proceed in a dialogue with prior and contemporary work. The dialogue presupposes other statements or expressions, subsumes them, and advances the dialogue by adding interpretations, commentaries, responses to what has already been stated.” What is fascinating about film is that its very nature is an intermedial fusion. Film only exists as a dialogue/fusion/interaction between such disparate arts as photography, theater, writing, acting, music, etc. Film can not only not be understood without intermediality, it would not even exist without such a principle.

The implications of intermediality not only being a principle of media but even a driving force of new ideas and (as the case with film) even new mediums are wide-ranging. If work exists, “in a system of meaningful relationships” and only within that system that means “originality” is not merely a myth but a dangerous one at that. It has, no doubt, helped lead to the broken copyright system. These principles should also be implemented into the arts education system as well since great work and artistic innovation only occur in dialogue with other work. The implications of the power of intermediality touch upon all the aspects of the creative community.

One of the best examples of such intermediality in film (though as I discussed the medium itself is as well) is the short “Hotel Chevalier” by Wes Anderson. In my opinion, it is one of his more striking works and it does so--in large part--through a powerful use of intermediality (on many levels).
Beautiful little film--but NSFW

Suz S.

The interesting thing about intertextuality to me is that meaning must be absorbed in some way to understand subsequent texts. In Eco's idea of the encyclopedia of references, we have to have understood some of the dictionary "terms" in order to make sense of the texts. I think that explains in part why shows like Jon Stewart and SNL attract well-educated viewers, because to make sense of the spoof, you have to know something about the referent. All of the things that are referenced in a text contribute to the meaning--everything outside the text that is both assigned to it and absorbed by the viewer according to her own intertextual understanding.

A fun (and overt) use of intertextuality was this year’s Academy Award intro with James Franco and Anne Hathaway interacting within several of the top films.

What makes the idea of intertextuality enjoyable is that it plays with what we know or have learned as a culture (whether we understand it the same way or not) and allows texts to speak to each other, to history, and to our present moment in unique ways. Eco says that signs are not dead: “The very nature of signs postulates an active role on the part of their interpreter.” Barthes also says, “[…] the Text is not the decomposition of the work, it is the work that is the imaginary tail of the Text; or again, the Text is experienced only in an activity of production. (Barthes) This idea of active viewership allows us to become participants in the texts, which become open rather than closed messages.

Erin Coleman

The first example I thought of when reading through Kristeva’s theory of intertextuality was T.S. Eliot’s masterpiece poem, The Waste Land. http://www.bartleby.com/201/1.html Lethem touched on the relevance of this work briefly in his essay “The ecstasy of influence: a plagiarism,” but it serves as such a perfect example of this theory that I think it deserves a few more sentences of discussion. As an undergraduate, one of my favorite courses was devoted solely to the reading and interpretation of this poem (which, by the way, is fewer than 500 lines total) and its “influences.” Each class of the semester was devoted to the discussion of a new poet, novelist, artist, mythology, or biblical tradition, all of which are crucial to an understanding of Eliot’s poem. I have never encountered another creative work that is so utterly dependent on such an extensive variety of what Eco calls “background books.” For a quick example, from lines 60-100, footnotes to Eliot’s poem list the following references: multiple poems by French modernist Baudelaire, Dante’s Inferno, Shakespearean era playwright John Webster’s White Devil, Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra, Virgil’s Aeneid, Milton’s Paradise Lost, and Ovid’s Metamorphoses. Eliot’s mastery of literary history is impressive, to say the least. The important fact, however, is not that he is clever enough to use such a wealth of allusions, but that he expects his reader to have an intimate knowledge of each of these works as well. The poem has often come under criticism precisely this reason: The Waste Land, all 500 glorious lines, almost mandates a college course for a “complete” reading, that is, the reading of Eliot’s “Model Reader.”external image 53r427OSKK8QZUe-PDU1Hs-_Vef8ogTDlLcdWkw9tPdKMp0UqVGOiFNWtqc7jo9M8MMr-lrvbsNhxpTxagvMYV1_OydPGQiJvpZ7G08O7lXfaHKVXWI
Moving to a slightly more modern example, the Coen brother’s hilarious O Brother, Where Art Thou?, the same rules apply. The film transports Homer’s Odyssey (which has special relevance to this week’s reading because of the issues of copyright and intellectual property that Lethem discusses, as well as the fact that we have already encountered Homer as an exemplar of what McLuhan called Eastern orality) into the deep American south of the 1930s. Joel Coen describes the development of the film in this way: “It just sort of occurred to us after we’d gotten into it somewhat that it was a story about someone going home, and sort of episodic in nature, and it kind of evolved into that. It’s very loosely and very sort of seriously based on The Odyssey.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/O_Brother,_Where_Art_Thou%3F
Here’s a short clip of a scene that clearly demonstrates the relationship between Homer’s ancient epic and the Coen brother’s comedy. Even if you’ve never read Homer, you’re probably familiar with Odysseus’ encounter with the sirens... that is, you’ve “read” Homer through a wealth of other cultural reference points even if you’ve never literally read the poem. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ODlmEjZ8UFA

I really enjoyed all of this week’s readings. However, I found Lethem’s essay, while interesting, the most problematic. His observations and assertions about copyright law and intellectual property bordering on absurdity in the modern world are valid, but I don’t think he offers an adequate alternative. In particular, his notion of the “gift economy” was a bit confusing to me. He contrasts the gift economy, roughly equivalent to a type of public commons, with the market economy, but how does he see this playing out in the “real world?” What do other people think of his ideas?

Joshua Weaver
In “From Text to Work”, Barthes discusses the plurality of text as a result of the myriad signifiers that, together, constitute its content. According to Chandler, the concept of “intertextuality” is not written in a code or inserted into text; but, rather a construct developed from the relationship between the “originator” and the viewer, reader, spectator, etc. Text is “semelfactive”; its meaning coming from its place and circumstance in a schema of texts. An integral part of Barthes’ argument – and one with much resonance to examples below – is that text permeates every aspect of culture and genre therein: “What constitutes the Text is, on the contrary (or precisely), its subversive force in respect of the old classifications.” Intertextuality and semiosis seemingly develop from the ubiquity of text – the idea that no matter the cultural genre or hierarchy, texts lie on the same dynamic plane, persistently vulnerable to retextualizing or reallocation. One of the most ostensible forms of intertextuality today is in the form of parody. Even when the topic being parodied is foreign, many of the signifiers within the text of the parody are, at least, “half-identifiable” (“They come from codes which are known but their combination is unique.” [Barthes]). For instance, take the music video parodies. While the song, its genre and possibly even the style of music video may be foreign to the viewer, certain signifiers within the text (music video) place said text on the plane of texts, alongside its antecedents and contemporaries, where it’s appropriately read. Conversely, however, consuming and digesting a text may, indeed, necessitate an understanding of its antecedents and contemporaries (the “Already-Written”). Chandler discusses this concept via Kristeva in the discussion of advertisements, as well as the “indebtedness” of texts to others. Below is a music / music video parody which utilizes numerable signifiers from various places, including many of its antecedents to draw both parallelism and congruity. Think about the music’s compositional makeup (beat/rhythm/voice, etc.) as well as music-video production (quality, angles, etc.)

Ariel Leath

I've often been troubled by the idea of originality in the modern world. With the internet as a constant source of "new" media (youtube, blog, flikr, etc) I get the feeling that it is quite conceited of one to think that anything posted is unique. I've posed this question to friends of mine that write music, with intellectual property in my mind, "how can you be sure that you aren't taking subconscious mental samples of music you have heard in the past and incorporating them into your songs?" The responses vary, but to be sure they always include some sort of disclaimer like "Well, if I did I didn't mean to."

George Harrison didn't mean to either. His songwriting was called into question after the hit "My Sweet Lord" came out in the late 60's. The band The Chiffons and their label sued Harrison for too many musical similarities to their hit oldie "He's So Fine." Harrison was later found guilty of "subconsciously plagiarizing" the song (Really!!). Scary, that someone as accomplished and talented as Harrison could make such a fundamental mistake...

but is it a mistake? See

for yourself - the amount in common these songs have is minimal, in my


The idea of subconscious plagiarism plagues me, as it should everyone seeking to create a unique product in any sector of his or her life. The idea of intertextuality allows for such a scenario and almost makes it acceptable, speaking to the idea that everything is built on other such media and scenarios from our past.
Disney has done a fantastic job of creating, in my opinion,

one of the only intertextual entities that is somewhat walled-off from the rest

of society. That is, the movies have all existed in some sort of simulacra

bubble that everyone familiar understands and appreciates, but mostly because

of a history of viewing and understanding Disney movies.

The Cultural Encyclopedia of Disney, possibly?

Qres Ephraim

American Icons Personified