[ in-ter-teks-choo-al-i-tee ]
/ ˌɪn tərˌtɛks tʃuˈæl ɪ ti /


the interrelationship between texts, especially works of literature; the way that similar or related texts influence, reflect, or differ from each other: the intertextuality between two novels with the same setting.



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Origin of intertextuality

1970–75; <French intertextualité<inter-inter- + textueltextual + -ité-ity

OTHER WORDS FROM intertextuality

in·ter·tex·tu·al, adjectivein·ter·tex·tu·al·ly, adverb Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2020


What does intertextuality mean?

Intertextuality refers to the way that works of art, especially literature, are related and influence each other.

Text, in this context, most often refers to a work of literature, like a book or poem, but it can be any creative work, such as a film, song, painting, or speech. Intertextuality often involves things like the similarities and differences between two pieces, but it can also cover a broad range of relationships between different works. Intertextuality is primarily used in literary and cultural criticism and analysis.

Example: In this class, we’ll examine the intertextuality between Hamlet and The Lion King.

Where does intertextuality come from?

Intertextuality comes from the French word intertextualité, which was coined in 1967 by scholar Julia Kristeva. Kristeva based it on the Latin word intertexto, a verb related to the art of weaving. This is a great way to visualize intertextuality: think of art and culture as a huge cloth, with all texts “weaving” through all other texts. In this way, they are all related somehow, even if the relation isn’t obvious or intentional.

Intertextuality can be and often is intentional, such as when an artist quotes or makes a reference to another work. A common example of intentional intertextuality is referencing a well-known work, such as the Bible or a work of Shakespeare. These references are usually called allusions, but not all instances of intertextuality are allusions.

Sometimes artists refer to other texts without intending to. For example, a writer might unknowingly use the same motifs as a classic work or follow a very similar plot. This happens a lot in literature (and all art) because artists can’t avoid being influenced by contemporary and past works.

That’s one of the main reasons why intertextuality is an important concept. It makes us aware of interactions and relationships between texts, even those that the artists themselves may not have been aware of.

Did you know ... ?

What are some other forms of intertextuality?

  • intertextually
  • intertextual

What are some words that share a root or word element with intertextuality?

What are some words that often get used in discussing intertextuality?

How is intertextuality used in real life?

Intertextuality is usually used in academic settings, especially in critical analysis of literature and films.


Try using intertextuality!

Is intertextuality a form of allusion, or is allusion a form of intertextuality?