what is a text

It requires you to grapple with and answer the question “what is a text?” based on your readings and your projects. It is a sustained critical exploration of the nature of the textuality of things.

Your final critical reflective essay provides your thoughtful and carefully articulated answer to the following question: What is a text? I’m less interested in an answer that agrees with my perspective. I’m more interested in how you think through this question using the materials of the course and your experiences with your projects.

Questions to Think With

In addition to this main question–What is a text?–you might also think with and across the questions we generated as a class. I have compiled and lightly edited them, here:

  • Authorship and filiation/who creates the meaning in a text?
  • How do we configure notions of power within our understanding of a text (this includes hierarchical power, external influences, and agency)? Where is the intersection between rhizomes and spatiality?
  • Is context needed to understand an image and, if so, why?
  • How do models and maps make us experience or read space differently from each other?
  • Should texts always have an intended space and place?
  • What role does individual interpretation play in the understanding/formation of texts?
  • Being that humans have their own perception of which texts have agency and which don’t, how does that affect the overall effect of the text in and of itself?
  • Is the transmission of photos intentional or unintentional?
  • How does the meeting up of histories create a space as a surface that we, as humans, can associate with?
  • To what extent are texts dependent on humans?
  • To what extent does subjectivity and objectivity matter when analyzing an image? Is objectivity an active concept considering that subjectively always takes place during any analysis?
  • Can we think about spatial texts, such as statues or memorials/monuments, in terms of their impact and affect given their public nature and function, or is this fallacious as Wimsatt and Beardsley suggest? Can experience and context from an individual or a group of people influence a spatial text and its “success” with their function in mind?
  • Do texts require an interaction?
  • How relevant is the author and her or his beliefs to the intention of the work?
  • Are we now able to truly convey our meanings, due to the wide range of texts that can be created?
  • How much of a place’s history and significance is placed in the presentation and the materials that are incorporated into it? Is the amount of time and effort placed on the presentation of the text what makes it more important?
  • How much of education and attachment to history begins with the space that an author creates from a place?
  • With the existence of both intentional and affective fallacies, can a single, true, meaning ultimately be fully derived from a piece, without having conflicting meanings that can be discussed? Or, rather, does the idea of textuality state that all texts and things are doomed to forever be never truly understood?
  • How do objects/things/nonhuman entities give or deny permission in textual creation and transmission?
  • If everything does, in fact, have agency, then does meaning have any inherent value if it is entirely subjective?
  • If seeing is believing, is “believing” the same as understanding? Why do we place our visual perception as higher in rank than our other senses as it pertains to aesthetic appreciation of a text?
  • Are all texts at their core, visual texts? When does a text become singularly a visual text?
  • Is anything that is produced a text? If no interpretation or meaning can be extracted, is something still a text? Can something be a work, but not a text? What role does this concept of “fruitfulness” play in determining if something is a text?
  • How does geographical location and history affect the materials of a text and the text self?
  • To what extent does subjectivity impact a text? In terms of considering author’s intention and the emotions that may occur with responses?
  • With the political undertones of New Materialisms- how do politics engage with the multiplicities of a text?
  • Does a visual always need to be considered a text- if the author does not necessarily have any intention when creating the visual would it still be a text?
  • How does one determine that a space is a text or vice versa? What goes into this decision; who gets to make this decision; is this a multi-faceted concept?
  • Who or what determines the authenticity or merit of a text?If textuality of a space is changing as different people move through it, then are people texts?
  • In what ways and by which methods is it possible to measure a text for its value objectively, as Wimsatt and Beardsley argue for? Further, is everyone capable of this objective analysis, or is it impossible due to our subjectivity?Can debris can be considered a text on its own or does it require a living thing acting on it for it to become a text? Further, how could debris be considered a text on its own?

Guidelines

Your Theory of Textuality should…

  • Have a heading with (at minimum) your name and the date.
  • Be single-spaced with an extra line between paragraphs. No need to indent.
  • Be about 2,500 words (probably 4-5 single-spaced pages).
  • Include a works cited.
 
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