Managing intertextuality -

meaning, plagiarism and power

Perry Share


This paper seeks to recast the discussion of plagiarism in terms of ‘managing intertextuality’. Intertextuality refers to how our contemporary cultural environment is marked by duplication, interpenetration of texts and the circulation and recirculation of images, sounds and words in multiple forms and formats. Intertextuality is ubiquitous and inevitable: the challenge is how to respond to it.

Drawing on a multidisciplinary literature of plagiarism and pedagogy the paper examines contemporary cultural practices that are based in intertextuality: from literature to fashion to music. It suggests that both students and academic staff are immersed in this world of meaning, yet must still strive to make sense of intellectual practices founded within a very different context.

The challenge for teachers and learners is to develop a language and strategies that recognise the reality of intertextuality. The development of this language cannot be divorced from the social context in which tertiary and other levels of education take place. This social context - especially in Ireland but also in other societies - remains resolutely hierarchical, where the content, purpose and styles of teaching and learning are determined from outside and 'above' the learner.

A more democratic pedagogy might help us to develop new ways of talking about and managing intertextuality. This will inevitably raise questions about learning for whom?, and for what?, and what constitutes ‘knowledge’? These are fundamental questions that must accompany the more technological, administrative and legal issues related to plagiarism and its management in the educational setting.

This paper was submitted to the International Integrity & Plagiarism Conference which ran between 2004-2014. The paper was peer reviewed by an independent editorial board and features in the conference proceedings.