The Idea of a Text and the Nature of Textual Meaning
In his account of text and textual meaning, Pettersson demonstrates that a text as commonly conceived is not only a verbal structure but also a physical entity, two kinds of phenomena which do not in fact add up to a unitary object. He describes this current notion of text as convenient enough for many practical purposes, but inadequate in discussions of a theoretically more demanding nature. Having clearly demonstrated its intellectual drawbacks, he develops an alternative, boldly revisionary way of thinking about text and textual meaning. His careful argument is in challenging dialogue with assumptions about language-in-use to be found in a wide range of present-day literary theory, linguistics, philosophical aesthetics, and philosophy of language.
[FILLM Studies in Languages and Literatures, 7] 2017. xiii, 196 pp.
Publishing status: Available
© John Benjamins
Table of Contents
Series editor’s preface
List of figures
Introduction. A theory of text and textual meaning
Part I. The theory explained
Chapter 1. The ordinary conception of a text and the cluster conception
Chapter 2. Exemplars of texts and complexes of signs
Chapter 3. Textual meaning
Chapter 4. A news story and a work of electronic literature
Chapter 5. A poem: “Dickinson 591”
Part II. The theory compared with other theories
Chapter 6. The standard linguistic perspective on text and textual meaning
Chapter 7. Analytic-aesthetic views of textual meaning
Chapter 8. Text and textual meaning as conceived by standard literary theory
Chapter 9. The idea that texts are unitary objects
Conclusion. An informal summary
“I usually dread dry semantic theory. But I deeply admired and enjoyed this book. Pettersson is a very learned, lucid and careful thinker, often drily amusing. More important, Pettersson actually brings important news, powerfully stated, especially for those of us who have struggled to establish some model of intention in literary texts. Pettersson’s cluster theory of the text establishes the necessity of elaborating three dimensions for the text—a description of the physical properties of the texts as utterance, a consideration of how it bears sender’s meaning to communicate, and, best of all, the work of the receiver to provide a wider perspective on the sender’s meaning. I still quarrel with treating literature as communication rather than expression, but I am utterly persuaded that we need his three aspects of text in order to have both intention and this wider perspective situating the intention in various larger contexts. This is significant thinking.”
Charles F. Altieri, University of California, Berkeley
“In this lucid and provocative study, Pettersson challenges our most basic assumptions about the nature of texts and textual meaning. Its point of departure is a critical analysis of the popular conception of the text: the view that a text is a unitary entity made up of both physical objects and abstract verbal structures. Pettersson convincingly argues for the incoherence of this model as a foundation for intellectual discussion, showing how it permeates disciplines as diverse as linguistics, philosophy, literary theory, and aesthetics. This book is a rigorously argued plea for conceptual clarity in our engagement with the meanings of texts of all kinds.”
Christopher M. Hutton, The University of Hong Kong
“In The Idea of a Text and the Nature of Textual Meaning, Anders Pettersson offers a new conception of texts and textual meaning. In contrast with many other views about linguistic communication, for Pettersson, texts are clusters of objects and meanings cease to be independent of the interpretations of senders and receivers. This is a terrific new work that anyone interested in language, meaning, or interpretation should read.”
Robert Stecker, Central Michigan University
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BIC Subject: CFG – Semantics, Pragmatics, Discourse Analysis
BISAC Subject: LAN009030 – LANGUAGE ARTS & DISCIPLINES / Linguistics / Pragmatics
U.S. Library of Congress Control Number: 2016057189