In one of my recent blog posts, I discussed the importance of common knowledge and the importance of using intertextuality to increase one’s knowledge on a piece of literature. To refresh your memory, intertextuality is “The condition of interconnectedness among texts…” according to The Bedford Glossary of Critical and Literary Terms, written by Ross Murfin and Supryia M. Ray. As we read the three different poems in Percival Everett’s, re: f (gesture), each time we finished a poem in class, Beth would give us a first task of talking about what we took from the poem new critically, meaning we discuss the poem using what we understood within only that poem and not any outside factors. Throughout the semester, I always seem to have gone back to these terms and using them in my group discussions. I have found them, specifically intertextuality, very helpful when it comes to what we read in class.
In September, one day we were divided into groups to talk about New Criticism versus intertextuality. We had to explain the two different terms and then, of course, explain why any of what we wrote actually mattered. Why should people care about New Criticism and intertextuality? My group came to the conclusion that intertextuality is really inevitable, meaning that it’s almost unavoidable when it comes to anything really; movies, novels, poems. This makes us prefer to use intertextuality as opposed to New Criticism because why would anyone want to talk about something without being able to make comparisons to something else?
Throughout my life, I have used intertextuality without even really realizing it. There’s always connections to be made between movies and books. In high school, we would read a novel and then watch the movie version of it, and after we did that we would make lists of similarities and differences. Or just like in this class, we read a novel and then compared it to the pieces of work we had already completed. These two methods are both logical ways of interpreting different texts. However, based on what I’ve read and the discussions in class, I believe that intertextuality is the method that can really expand one’s understanding when it comes to literature.
Why do either of these terms matter? Well, if I had to only use New Criticism to unpack the poems “Zulus” and “Body”, I would still be sitting in class trying to understand what Everett was saying. There are names and terms throughout those poems that some people may know because of a class they took in school or because of a movie they watched or a book they read. Because of the task Beth originally gave us, they couldn’t use what they already knew to teach other people about it. These two poems were made to be read using intertextuality. When we read the last poem, “Logic”, like I said in my last blog post, there weren’t names of historical people or complicated body parts or places. It was a simple poem to be talked about new critically, only using the information within that poem. Intertextuality is hard to be avoided because in this class, it’s all about connections. Life is all about connections so that we as humans can gain a better understanding of literature and of each other.