UTEL [ History of English | English Composition | Literary Authors | Literary Works | Literary Criticism ]
Glossary [ Main Entries | Key Words | Index of Names ]


Glossary of Literary Theory
by Greig E. Henderson and Christopher Brown


A term used by Julia Kristeva to describe the preexisting body of discourse that makes an individual text intelligible. Every text is a response to and an interpretation of other texts, and it can be read only in relation to them. The meaning of a text is dependent upon other texts that it absorbs and transforms, for, as Roland Barthes puts it, "the text is not a line of words releasing a single 'theological' meaning . . . but a multi-dimensional space in which a variety of writings, none of them original, blend and clash."

© Greig E. Henderson and Christopher Brown,
University of Toronto
Hypertext and HTML by Christopher Douglas
University of Toronto English Library
Director: Ian Lancashire.
Last modified: March 31, 1997