To hone this way of seeing intertextuality, the first assignment of the course asks students to conduct an intertextual analysis of their own choosing in a 1600-2000-word essay. Dubbed a “Genealogy,” this assignment prompts students to choose from two methods of analysis: first, they can delineate a “semantic unit”–e.g. a quotation, a character, a chord progression, and so on–and show how it has been transformed across three different textual manifestations. Second, they can trace the history of a primary text, seeking out its references and influences and then trace the influences of those secondary sources to find tertiary influences, constructing the ancestry of a text. Conceptually, we frame this assignment to prompt students to see the use and reuse of semantic units-phrases, gestures, symbols, melodies, and so on—so that they begin to see textual production as an ongoing cultural endeavor and so that they consider themselves as potential active participants in that endeavor.
JG: In this Genealogy, JG explicates the many different semiotic references in the U.S. One Dollar Bill, paying specific attention to allusions to religion, our nation’s history, and the governing financial institutions of the United States government.