Semiotics and Intertextuality
The semiotic notion of intertextuality is associated primarily with poststructuralist theorists. Each media text exists in relation to others. In fact, texts owe more to other texts than to their own makers. Texts are framed by others in many ways. Most obvious are formal frames: a television programme, for instance, may be part of a series and part of a genre (soap or sitcom). Our understanding of any individual text relates to such framings.
Genre theory: Within semiotics genres can be seen as sign systems or codes – conventionalized but dynamic structures. Each example of a genre utilises conventions which link it to other members of that genre. Such conventions are at their most obvious in ‘spoof’ versions of the genre.
Links also cross the boundaries of formal frames, for instance, in sharing topics with treatments within other genres (the theme of war is found in a range of genres such action-adventure film, documentary, news, current affairs). Some genres are shared by several media: the genres of soap, game show and phone-in are found on both television and radio; the genre of the news report is found on TV, radio and in newspapers; the advertisement appears in all mass media forms. Texts sometimes allude directly to each other as in ‘remakes’ of films, and in many amusing contemporary TV ads. Texts in the genre of the trailer are directly tied to specific texts within or outside the same medium. The genre of the programme listing exists within the medium of print (listings magazines, newspapers) to support the media of TV, radio and film. TV soaps generate substantial coverage in popular newspapers, magazines and books; the ‘magazine’ format was adopted by TV, radio and now by Web.
Each text exists within a vast “society of texts” in various genres and media: no text is an island entire of itself. A useful semiotic technique is comparison and contrast between differing treatments of similar themes (or similar treatments of different themes), within or between different genres or media….
Questions for You and Me
Does it allude to other genres? Does it allude to or compare with other texts within the genre? How does it compare with treatments of similar themes within other genres?
Very good book on genres by Michail Bakhtin, although he is not pure simiotician.
Film Theory Links
Wide Angle: A Film Quarterly of Theory, Criticism, and Practice from USC.
Transparency: Mass Media, Visul Culture and Ideology.
LisztSelect: Film Theory Lists: Groups, Discussions.
Auther Theory: selling select books.
Cine-Tracks: Canadian Film Theory Journal.
Dramatica Theory of Story: for writers.
Open Directory Project:Movies: Theory & Criticism (needs an editor).
Film-Theory contact Page: subscribe!
Iconology & Movies: from Yale Press.
SOFIA links: from UK.
CinemaSpace: from Berkeley.
Voice of the Shuttle: Theory: including literature, the best!
English Server: one the best sources on the Internet, if not the best!
F-Theory: good personal page on movies and film.
100 Best in film history of the century
Theory of Film: The Redemption of Physical Reality
Siegfried Kracauer; with an introduction by Miriam Bratu Hansen Princeton University Press, 364 PP., $19.95, Paper, 0691037043
Princeton has made an interesting and very worthwhile decision to reprint Siegfried Kracauer’s impressive work on film aesthetics (the term magnum opus would not be inappropriate). (Theory of Film was originally published in 1960, this new paperback edition is the only one currently in print in English.) At a time when film so readily employs digital means to create images, Kracauer’s emphasis on film’s connection to photography as a representation of reality might seem out-of-date. However, As Miriam Bratu Hansen points out in her excellent introduction, suggestions that Kracauer’s theories of film belong to the “beautiful ruins in the philosophical landscape” certainly miss out on what is certainly very relevant and consistently challenging in Theory of Film. Written during his exile in France during World War II (Theory of Film differs in many ways from his Weimar writings, the specter of the Holocaust and Nazism, shaped Kracauer’s views on film) Kracauer views film as both the perfect medium for the representation of the crisis of modernity and the modern subject as well as holding out the possibility to suggest and encourage new perspectives and constructs in which to change its condition. Now that Theory of Film is once again available to English-speaking readers it will undoubtedly take its place among the works of Bazin and Arnheim, as well as Kracauer’s own From Caligari to Hitler as a classic work of film theory.