What it is

Intertextuality refers to those interrelationships among texts that shape a text’s meaning. The recognisable echoes of other texts in a text intensify the experience of the text by adding layers of meaning.

Rob Pope distinguishes between three types of intertextuality

  • Explicit intertextuality, alluding specifically to another text through quotation or reference
  • Implied intertextuality, where the allusion is more indirect may occur through such commonalities as genre or style
  • Inferred intertextuality referring to the texts drawn on by the actual responder and will likely include texts that had not even existed when the text was composed.

Why it is important

Recognising and understanding intertextuality leads to a much richer reading experience which invites new interpretations as it brings another context, idea, story into the text at hand.

As new layers of meaning are introduced, there is pleasure in the sense of connection and the continuity of texts and of cultures. These connections mean that a responder is engaging with a broader literary heritage than just a discrete text.  Intertextuality also invites us to revisit the earlier text, often with new insights into its meaning for our time.

Intertextuality also raises questions about nature of authorship and originality as texts may be seen as ‘composed’ from pre-existing elements rather than ‘created’. It also provides one way for students to compose their own texts drawn from their knowledge of others.

Stage 6

Students understand that every text is in dialogue with other texts. These dialogues can be explicit, implied or inferred.

They learn that

  • intertextuality is a relationship formed by a composer or responder between and among texts through recognising common features
  • texts have within them the seeds and resonances of other texts, so becoming interdependent for meaning making
  • intertextuality involves re-visioning texts for critical and creative purposes*
  • intertextuality invites consideration of the value of a text*.

*Advanced and Extension courses

Stage 5

Students understand that intertextuality is intrinsic to composition and response.

Students learn that

  • texts are recontextualised for different times, modes, media and cultures
  • texts are variations on, or borrow from, other texts
  • intertextuality involves references gained through experience of a wide range of texts from the canon to popular culture.

Stage 4

Students understand that intertextuality enhances and layers meaning.

They learn that

  • intertextual references require knowledge of culturally significant texts
  • recreating texts provides new insights
  • transformation provides ways of understanding and appreciating the earlier text.

Stage 3

Students understand that intertextuality occurs across and within modes and media

They learn that

  • intertextuality may occur through adaptation of structure and style
  • whole texts may be appropriated for different audiences and purposes, modes and media.
  • in transforming texts, there are opportunities for originality.

Stage 2

Students understand that when one text draws on another composing and responding are enriched.

They learn that

  • stories may be changed for different situations
  • some aspects of stories may be inserted into other stories
  • they can see their own story in terms of other stories.

Stage 1

Students understand that some texts are connected with other texts.

They learn that

  • some texts draw on other texts.


Students recognise that stories may be told in different ways.