Original Research

Reading for empowerment: Intertextuality offers creative possibilities for enlightened citizenry

Fetson Kalua
Reading & Writing | Vol 3, No 1 | a21 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/rw.v3i1.21 | © 2012 Fetson Kalua | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 04 June 2012 | Published: 08 August 2012

About the author(s)

Fetson Kalua, Department of English Studies, University of South Africa, South Africa


Julia Kristeva coined the term ‘intertextuality’ to explain her utter belief in the mutability and movement of texts, in contradistinction to the time-honoured popular idea that a text is an autonomous and self-evident object. For Kristeva, any text implies the existence and embedding of other texts, also known as sub-texts, within it. This has far-reaching implications for the way we read, engage with, and interpret various texts. This article describes the concept of intertextuality as a model of reading which puts the reader at the centre of the reading process. It goes on to link intertextuality to other domains of literacy, notably the notion of ‘spheres of literacy’. Central to intertextuality and spheres of literacy is their privileging of the reader, as opposed to the author, in the reading process. Finally, the article explores the ways in which our awareness and use of intertextuality can help to develop a literate and free-thinking citizenry who derive utmost autonomy and empowerment from various cultural texts accessible to them.


Intertextuality; Empowerment; Literacy; Text; Sub-text; Comprehension


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