Toward Understanding the Cognitive Processes Underlying Intertextuality

Posted: 31 Oct 2008  

Sandra Cavalcante

Pontifical Catholic University of Minas Gerais

Date Written: October 17, 2008


Intertextuality is a simple and recurrent phenomenon of human language. This phenomenon can be identified in numerous fields of human experience (science, arts, religion, gastronomy etc), more specifically, in various semiotic fields (literature, music, cinema, painting, photography etc); therefore it is present verbal and non-verbal interactional processes. Generally, this phenomenon is manifested when, in a text-in-focus, we create or identify features of a source-text or of a meaning network recognized and - in this sense - previously established and shared. We have to consider the vigor and importance of this phenomenon for the constitution and evolution of human culture, since it can be largely identified in the constitution and use of human cultural artifacts, more specifically of textual artifacts. Considering Intertextuality a recursive human language phenomenon, my research questions are objectively: i) which basic cognitive principles underlie intertextuality manifestations?; ii) which basic cognitive operations are implicated in different manifestations of Intertextuality? The hypothesis assumed in this study is that intertextuality is concrete evidence of a specific human cognitive principle and ability, understood and described as manifestation of the dialogic principle of human language and cognition (Tomasello, 2003) and of conceptual integration processes (Fauconnier and Turner, 2002). This paper reports an anticipated analysis of a pilot "metacognitive experiment" named "Reading Circle" (Roda de Leitura). In this experiment high school Brazilian students read a short Brazilian literary narrative (Chico Buarque, 1980), completed a reading log about the story and, then, interacted freely, without being observed by the researcher. The students discussed among themselves their own answers to the log, and the discussion was recorded and transcribed. In this oral interaction, insights about the processes students went through while reading were revealed. In a preliminary analysis of this material, signs of both the dialogic principle and of conceptual integration processes became evident as basic in relation to how readers comprehend and construct meaning in intertextual literary narrative discourse.

Keywords: semantic domains, conceptual blend, dialogism, narrative, intertextuality

Suggested Citation

Cavalcante, Sandra, Toward Understanding the Cognitive Processes Underlying Intertextuality (October 17, 2008). 9th Conference on Conceptual Structure, Discourse, and Language (CSDL9). Available at SSRN:

Sandra Cavalcante (Contact Author)

Pontifical Catholic University of Minas Gerais ( email )

Av. Dom José Gaspar, 500, Coração Eucarístico
Instituto de Ciências Humanas - Depart. de Letras
Belo Horizonte - Minas Gerais


Register to support our free research


Paper statistics

Abstract Views