Bauman & Briggs—Genre, Intertextuality, and Social Power

Genre, Intertextuality, and Social Power

by Richard Bauman and Charles L. Briggs

[Briggs, Charles L., and Richard Bauman. 1992. “Genre, Intertextuality, and Social Power.” Journal of Linguistic Anthropology 2: 131–72.]

Points

“grasping the complex intertextual relations that underlie genre, along with the way these relations are closely linked to social, cultural, ideological, and political-economic factors, can offer insight into why studies of genre have proved to be so problematic” (132).

Genre styles—”are constellations of co-occurrent formal elements and structures that define or characterize particular classes of utterances. The constituent elements of genre styles may figure in other speech styles as well, establishing indexical resonances between them. Additionally, particular elements may be abstracted from recognized generic styles and employed in other discursive settings to endow them with an indexical tinge, a coloration, of the genres with which they are primarily associated and the social meaning that attaches to them” (141).

“Beyond the fact that it has been put to a wide range of analytic and descriptive uses, practitioners have generally simply assumed that they and their audiences know what genres are and what makes them work” (145).

  • Bakhtin, however, “sees linguistic dimensions of genres in terms of their ideologically mediated connections with social groups and “spheres of human activity” in historical perspective (1986:65)” (145).
  • “Bakhtin was one of the first to replace the static hewing out of texts with a model where literary structure does not simply exist but is generated in relation to another structure. What allows a dynamic dimension to structuralism is his conception of the “literary word” as an intersection of textual surfaces rather than a point (a fixed meaning), as a dialogue among several writings: that of the writer, the addressee (or the character), and the contemporary or earlier cultural context. [Kristeva 1980:64-65, emphasis in original]  […paragraph] Two facets of this characterization are crucial. First, structure, form, func- tion, and meaning are seen not as immanent features of discourse but as products of an ongoing process of producing and receiving discourse. Second, this process is not centered in the speech event or creation of a written text itself, but lies in its interface with at least one other utterance.  […paragraph]  Bakhtin’s interest in a “translinguistics” that is vitally concerned with2 intertextuality has clearly provided part of the force that lies behind the recent interest in reported speech evident in linguistic anthropology and other fields” (146-47).

“Viewed synchronically, genres provide powerful means of shaping discourse into ordered, unified, and bounded texts. As soon as we hear a generic framing device, such as “once upon a time,” we unleash a set of expectations regarding narrative form and content. Animals may talk and people may possess supernatural powers, and we anticipate the unfolding of a plot structure that involves, as Propp (1968(1928]) showed us long ago, an interdiction, a violation, a departure, the completion of tasks, failure followed by success, and the like. The invocation of genre thus provides a textual model for creating cohesion and coherence, for producing and interpreting particular sorts of features and their formal and functional relations all the way from particular poetic lines to the global structure of the narrative” (147).

  • “Genre thus pertains crucially to negotiations of identity and power—by invoking a particular genre, producers of discourse assert (tacitly or explicitly) that they possess the authority needed to decontextualize discourse that bears these historical and social connections and to recontextualize it in the current discursive setting” (148).

“When viewed diachronically or vertically, the fit between a particular text and its generic model—as well as other tokens of the same genre— is never perfect; to paraphrase Sapir, we might say that all genres leak” (bold added,149).

  • “The process of linking particular utterances to generic models thus necessarily produces an intertextual gap. Although the creation of this hiatus is unavoidable, its relative suppression or foregrounding has important effects. One the one hand, texts framed in some genres attempt to achieve generic transparency by minimizing the distance between texts and genres, thus rendering the discourse maximally interpretable through the use of generic precedents. This approach sustains highly conservative, traditionalizing modes of creating textual authority. On the other hand, maximizing and highlighting these intertextual gaps underlies strategies for building authority through claims of individual creativity and innovation (such as are common in 20th-century Western literature), resistance to the hegemonic structures associated with established genres, and other motives for distancing oneself from textual precedents” (149).

BIG CONCLUSION—

“In this article we have critiqued views of genre that draw on purportedly immanent, invariant features in attempting to provide internally consistent systems of mutually exclusive genres

  1. We presented an alternative view of genre, one that places generic distinctions not within texts but in the practices used in creating intertextual relations with other bodies of discourse …
  2. we argued that generic intertextuality is not an inherent property of the relation between a text and a genre but the construction of such a relationship …
  3. We accordingly suggested that generic links necessarily produce an intertextual gap; the strategies used for constructing intertextual relations can seek to minimize this gap,maximize it, or both.
  4. Choices between intertextual strategies are ideologically motivated, and they are closely related to social, cultural, political-economic, and historical factors (bullets added, 163).

“Our goal in this article is thus not to “rescue” the category of genre from these difficulties or to assert its centrality to research in linguistic anthropology. Any attempt to champion—or to dismiss—the concept of genre would have strong ideological underpinnings. We have rather tried to use our discussion of genre as a means of raising some basic is- sues regarding discourse production and reception. In an earlier article (Bauman and Briggs 1990) we argued that discourse analysis cannot best proceed either by (1) studying (socio)linguistic elements and processes apart from the process of discourse production and reception or by (2) studying social interactions as analytic microcosms. We rather pointed to the fruitfulness of studying discourse vis-a-vis the way it is transformed in the course of successive decontextualizations and recontextualizations and of exploring the process of entextualization that provides the formal and functional basis for such transformations (164).

Abstract

This article addresses the relationship between discourse, textual and social order, and power by means of an examination of the concept of genre. It begins with a critical review of the way genre has been used in linguistic anthropology. A distinction is delineated between approaches that take for granted the status of genre as a tool for classifying and ordering discourseand those that contend with elements of generic ambiguity and dynamism. Proceeding to outline a new approach to genre, the discussion analyzes awide range of intertextual relations that are deployed in constituting genericlinks. A series of examples contrasts strategies for minimizing gaps between texts and generic precedents with strategies for maximizing such gaps. A final section points to the ways that investigating generic intertextuality can illuminate questions of ideology, political economy, and power.

Annotation Summary for: Bauman & Briggs – Genre & Intertextuality

Page 1, Typewriter (Red): Comment: 1992

Page 1, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “Genre, Intertextuality,and Social Power Charles L. Briggs Richard Bautnan”

Page 2, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “Like such notions as text, genre strikes some practitioners as too global and fuzzy a concept tobe of much use to detailed formal and functional analysis. Its association with literary theory and critical practice may similarly suggest that it is not likely to be illuminating with respect to either “everyday conversa- tion” or “ordinary” linguistic processes. ”

Page 2, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “Wewill argue that grasping the complex intertextual relations that underliegenre, along with the way these relations are closely linked to social, cul-tural, ideological, and political-economic factors, can offer insight intowhy studies of genre have proved to be so problematic. ”

Page 2, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “The Boasian Tradition”

Page 2, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “As we have noted, genre—as term and as concept—has achieved cur- rency in contemporary linguistic anthropology largely under the stimu- lus of the ethnography of speaking, performance-centered approaches to verbal art, and the work of Mikhail Bakhtin.”

Page 2, Stamp ((Empty))

Page 6, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “Formal Definitions of Genre Outside the Boasian tradition of linguistic anthropology, but conver- gent with it in certain respects, was a small line of scholarship devoted to the formulation of structural definitions of oral genres.”

Page 8, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “Genre in the Ethnography of Speaking With the emergence of the ethnography of speaking in the early 1960s,as we have suggested at the beginning of this article, genre assumes asignificant place in the repertoire of concepts in linguistic anthropology(Philips 1987). ”

Page 9, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “Gossen’s analysis displays the limitations of a rigorously taxonomic classificatory perspective on genre.”

Page 10, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “As early as 1964, Hymes suggests that “from one standpoint the analysis of speech into acts is an analysis of speech into instances of genres. The notion of genre implies the possibility of iden- tifying formal characteristics traditionally recognized” (1972a:65).”

Page 10, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “the notion of speech act focuses on speaking in its guise as social action, whereas the concept of genre directs attention to the routinized, conventionalized organization of formal means, on the formal structure of language beyond the sentence (1972b:48).”

Page 11, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “Genre styles, then, are constellations of co-occurrent formal elements and structures that define or characterize particular classes of utterances. The constitu- ent elements of genre styles may figure in other speech styles as well, establishing indexical resonances between them. Additionally, particular elements may be abstracted from recognized generic styles and em- ployed in other discursive settings to endow them with an indexical tinge, a coloration, of the genres with which they are primarily associated and the social meaning that attaches to them,”

Page 13, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “The Problematics of Genre”

Page 13, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “On the basis of the foregoing survey of perspectives on genre in lin- guistic anthropology, let us attempt to abstract and summarize the prin- cipal issues, problems, and ways of thinking about them that have char- acterized the field in order to establish a frame of reference for the dis- cussion that follows.”

Page 13, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “One of the most central and persistent approaches to genre is from thevantage point of classification. Here, in its most basic terms, genre servesas a way of making categorical discriminations among discursive forms,which may be conceived of in textual terms, as verbal products, or inpractice-based terms, as ways of speaking (and writing). ”

Page 15, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “Generic Intertextuality”

Page 15, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “The preceding discussion suggests that genre has been under-theo- rized in linguistic anthropology.”

Page 15, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “Beyond the fact that it has been put to awide range of analytic and descriptive uses, practitioners have generallysimply assumed that they and their audiences know what genres are andwhat makes them work. ”

Page 15, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “We suggest that this general failure to examinecritically the nature of genres and to devote sufficient attention to theirlimitations as tools for classifying discourse is motivated in part by thepersistence of the orientation toward genre laid out by Aristotle in thePoetics”

Page 15, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “Bakhtin’s work sees lin-guistic dimensions of genres in terms of their ideologically mediated con-nections with social groups and “spheres of human activity” in historicalperspective (1986:65).”

Page 16, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “Intertextual Strategies and Genre”

Page 16, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “Bakhtin was one of the first to replace the static hewing out of texts with a model where literary structure does not simply exist but is generated in relation to another structure. What allows a dynamic dimension to structuralism is his conception of the “literary word” as an intersection of textual surfaces rather than a point (a fixed meaning), as a dialogue among several writings: that of the writer, the addressee (or the character), and the contemporary or earlier cul- tural context. [Kristeva 1980:64-65, emphasis in original]”

Page 16, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “Two facets of this characterization are crucial. First, structure, form, func- tion, and meaning are seen not as immanent features of discourse but as products of an ongoing process of producing and receiving discourse. Second, this process is not centered in the speech event or creation of a written text itself, but lies in its interface with at least one other utterance.”

Page 17, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “Bakhtin’s interest in a “translinguistics” that is vitally concerned with2 intertextuality has clearly provided part of the force that lies behind therecent interest in reported speech evident in linguistic anthropology andother fields. A”

Page 17, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “Like reported speech, genre is quintessential^ intertextual.”

Page 17, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “Viewed synchronically, genres provide powerful means of shaping discourse into ordered, unified, and bounded texts. As soon as we hear a generic framing device, such as “once upon a time,” we unleash a set of expectations regarding narrative form and content. Animals may talk and people may possess supernatural powers, and we anticipate the un- folding of a plot structure that involves, as Propp (1968(1928]) showed us long ago, an interdiction, a violation, a departure, the completion of tasks, failure followed by success, and the like.”

Page 17, Stamp (Star (Frame, Red))

Page 17, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “The invocation of genre thus provides a textual model for creating cohesion and coherence, for producing and interpreting particular sorts of features and their formal and functional relations all the way from particular poetic lines to the global structure of the narrative.”

Page 17, Underline (Blue): Content: “The invocation of genre thus provides a textual model for creating cohesion and coherence, for producing and interpreting particular sorts of features and their formal and functional relations global structure of the”

Page 19, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “When viewed diachronically or vertically, the fit between a particular text and its generic model—as well as other tokens of the same genre— is never perfect; to paraphrase Sapir, we might say that all genres leak.”

Page 19, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “Examples of Strategies for Manipulating Generic Intertextuality”

Page 19, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “Kuipers’s (1990) analysis of Weyewa ritual speech in Sumba, Indone- sia, provides a striking example of the process of minimizing intertextual”

Page 20, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “gaps.”

Page 22, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “Strategies for maximizing and minimizing intertextual gaps can coexisteven more intimately as they enter dialogically into constituting the sametext or performance. ”

Page 25, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “Axes of Comparison”

Page 25, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “While we are still far from being able to present an exhaustive inventory of the forms of intertex- tuality associated with genre, we would like to adumbrate some of the principal loci in which variation is evident with respect to the nature of generic intertextuality and the means by which intertextual gaps are ma- nipulated.”

Page 26, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “1. One axis of comparison is provided by the dimensions of the entex- tualization process that are exploited in creating and manipulating inter- textual relations.”

Page 26, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “2. Another source of variability with respect to the degree to which generic relations create order, unity, and boundedness lies in the fact that all genres are not created equal—or, more accurately, equally empow- ered—in terms of their ability to structure discourse.”

Page 26, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “3. The power of genre to create textual structure also varies in keeping with the degree to which the generic patterning is imposed on a partic- ular body of discourse. 4. One of the most interesting loci of variation involves the extent towhich intertextual strategies become, in Silverstein’s (1992) terms, deno-tatively explicit, in the sense that the metapragmatic framing of intertex-tual relations is marked overtly through the denotative content of the en-tailed expressions. ”

Page 27, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “5. A similar note of caution should be sounded with respect to the use of oral versus written resources in creating intertextuality.”

Page 27, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “6. A number of writers have argued for the need to examine howgenre shapes the expression of emotions as well as the related questionof the relationship between genre and gender. ”

Page 28, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “7. The role of music in creating intertextuality is also fascinating. By virtue of its capacity for closely regulating pitch, timbre, tempo, volume, and other features, and its frequent use in regulating movement (through dance), music can provide a powerful resource in attempting to suppress intertextual gaps.”

Page 28, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “8. A final axis of comparison pertains to the nature of generic intertex- tuality. The framing of some texts aligns them closely with a single genre;”

Page 29, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “as we noted above, the link in other cases may be either to a number of different genres, to a mixed (“secondary”) genre, or to both.”

Page 29, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “Broader Implications for Linguistic Anthropology”

Page 33, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “Conclusion”

Page 33, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “In this article we have critiqued views of genre that draw on purport-edly immanent, invariant features in attempting to provide internallyconsistent systems of mutually exclusive genres.”

Page 33, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “We presented an alter- native view of genre, one that places generic distinctions not within texts but in the practices used in creating intertextual relations with other bod- ies of discourse.”

Page 33, Underline (Blue): Content: “an alter- native view of genre, one that places generic distinctions not within texts but in the practices used in creating intertextual relations with other bod- ies of discourse.”

Page 33, Stamp (Star (Frame, Red))

Page 33, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “we argued that generic intertextual- ity is not an inherent property of the relation between a text and a genre but the construction of such a relationship.”

Page 33, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “suggestedthat generic links necessarily produce an intertextual gap; the strategiesused for constructing intertextual relations can seek to minimize this gap,maximize it, or both. ”

Page 33, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “Scholars have generally regarded systems of literary and speech genres as means of classifying or ordering discourse. Since intertextual relations”

Page 34, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “produce disorder, heterogeneity, and textual open-endedness, as well asorder, unity, and boundedness, scholarly strategies for creating genericlinks similarly involve arbitrary selections between competing intertex-tual relations and are affected by ideological, social, cultural, political-economic, and historical factors. Therefore, no system of genres as de-fined by scholars can provide a wholly systematic, empirically based, ob-jective set of consistently applied, mutually exclusive categories. ”

Page 34, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “Ethnographically based studies often portray the situated use of ethnic genres as a process of applying relatively stable, internally consis-tent, mutually exclusive, and well-defined categories in the productionand reception of texts.”

Page 34, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “In representing such an orderly process, scholarsrun the risk of doubly mystifying the problem by failing to discern theideologies and power arrangements that underlie local impositions of ge-neric order as well as by covering up their own rhetorical use of genresin ordering ethnographic data. In so doing, scholars collude with themembers of the community in question who are deemed to have controlover the production and reception of intertextual relations; they similarlyoften overlook the existence of marginalized and dissenting intertextualstrategies (but see Appadurai et al. 1991).”

Page 34, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “Our goal in this article is thus not to “rescue” the category of genre We have rather tried to use our discussion of genre as a means of raising some basic is- sues regarding discourse production and reception.”

Page 34, Highlight (Cyan): Content: “In an earlier article (Bauman and Briggs 1990) we argued that discourse analysis cannot best proceed either by (1) studying (socio)linguistic elements and processes apart from the process of discourse production and reception or by (2) studying social interactions as analytic microcosms. We rather pointed to the fruitfulness of studying discourse vis-a-vis the way it is transformed in the course of successive decontextualizations and recontextualizations and of exploring the process of entextualization that provides the formal and functional basis for such transformations.”

Page 34, Underline (Blue): Content: “fruitfulness of studying discourse vis-a-vis the way it is transformed in the course of successive decontextualizations and recontextualizations and of exploring the process of entextualization that provides the formal and functional basis for such transformations.”

Page 36, Underline (Red): Content: “Anderson, Benedict 1991(1983] Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread ofNationalism. London: Verso.”

Page 36, Underline (Red): Content: “Bakhtin, M. M. 1986(1979] The Problem of Speech Genres. In Speech Genres and Other LateEssays. Caryl Emerson and Michael Holquist, eds. Pp. 60-102. Austin: Uni-versity of Texas Press. Bakhtin, M. M., and P. M. Medvedev 1985(1928] The Formal Method in Literary Scholarship: A Critical Introduc-tion to Sociological Poetics. Albert J. Wehrle, trans. Cambridge, Mass.: Har-vard University Press. ”

Page 37, Underline (Red): Content: “Boas, Franz 1940a[1914] Mythology and Folk-Tales of the North American Indians. In Race, Language and Culture. Pp. 451-490. New York: Free Press. 1940b[1916] The Development of Folk-Tales and Myths. In Race, Language and Culture. Pp. 397-406. New York: Free Press. 1940c[1917] Introduction to International Journal of American Linguistics. In Race, Language and Culture. Pp. 199-210. New York: Free Press.”

Page 37, Underline (Red): Content: “Bourdieu, Pierre 1977 Outline of a Theory of Practice. Richard Nice, trans. Cambridge: Cam- bridge University Press. 1991 Language and Symbolic Power. Gino Raymond and Matthew Adam- son, trans. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.”

Page 37, Underline (Red): Content: “Clifford, James 1988 The Predicament of Culture: Twentieth-Century Ethnography, Litera-ture, and Art. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press. Clifford, James, and George E. Marcus, eds. 1986 Writing Culture: The Poetics and Politics of Ethnography. Berkeley:University of California Press. ”

Page 39, Underline (Red): Content: “Hanks, William F. 1987 Discourse Genres in a Theory of Practice. American Ethnologist 14(4):668-692.”

Page 39, Underline (Red): Content: “Herzfeld, Michael 1982 Ours Once More: Folklore, Ideology, and the Making of Modern Greece. Austin: University of Texas Press.”

Page 39, Underline (Red): Content: “Hobsbawm, Eric, and Terence Ranger, eds. 1983 The Invention of Tradition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.”

Page 40, Underline (Red): Content: “Jakobson, Roman 1960 Closing Statement: Linguistics and Poetics. In Style in Language. Thomas A. Sebeok, ed. Pp. 350-377. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.”

Page 40, Underline (Red): Content: “Kristeva, Julia 1980 Desire in Language. Leon S. Roudiez, trans. New York: Columbia Uni- versity Press.”

Page 40, Underline (Red): Content: “Kuipers, Joel C. 1990 Power in Performance: The Creation of Textual Authority in Weyewa Ritual Speech. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.”

Page 41, Underline (Red): Content: “Sapir, Edward 1909 Wishram Texts. Publications of the American Ethnological Society, vol. 2. Leiden: E. J. Brill.”

Page 42, Underline (Red): Content: “Taussig, Michael 1987 Shamanism, Colonialism and the Wild Man: A Study in Terror and Healing. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.”

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