According to Hill and Helmers (2004), Gerard Genette argues for the term transtextuality over the more commonly used intertextuality (p. 14). Genette’s definition of transtextuality is defined as “all that sets the texts in a relationship, whether obvious or concealed, with other texts” (as cited in Hill and Helmers, 2004, p. 14).
This idea reminds me of an artifact of an assignment I often used in a first-year composition course when discussing visual literacy and visual rhetoric. This assignment is actually what I might refer to as a forced transtextuality as I would ask students to compare analysis of two images in separate weeks of the course. The two assignments are below:
Analyzing the World
- View this image
- Based on your readings, describe, in one paragraph, the composition elements of the image, paying attention to its concrete nature (description). You may consider using the spatial approach under the “Analyzing Order” section.
- In a second paragraph, analyze the rhetorical situation of this image, considering items such as audience, purpose, context, and rhetorical appeals.
Analyzing the World Again
- You have previously written about this image
- Now, view this image and read this passage from Pale Blue Dot by Carl Sagan. The images may be different between NASA’s Apollo 17 and its Voyager 1, but they are both about planet earth.
- Explain the differences and similarities between how you analyzed the world and how Sagan analyzes its existence in his text. Is his writing more about the composition of the photo or its context? What stands out or draws you in to his writing? After reading Sagan’s text, is there anything you would change regarding your own analysis?
Hill, C. A., & Helmers, M. H. (2004). Defining visual rhetorics. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.