Citationality

Citationality

Citationality, in literary criticism, is an author's citation (quoting) of other author's works. Some works are highly citational (making frequent use of numerous allusion to and quotations from other works), while others seem to exist in a vacuum, without explicit references to other authors or texts. Some writers, such as the Argentine Jorge Luis Borges, are highly citational (Borges frequently included citations and footnotes in his stories, many of which were entirely made up). Citationality is often seen as a typical feature of postmodernism, especially in its pop culture manifestations (consider how frequently a television show such as The Simpsons or Mystery Science Theater 3000 makes use of quotes and citations).

In critical theory, citationality sometimes refers to Jacques Derrida's notion of iterability from his essay "Signature Event Context," where he argued that the essential feature of a signature was that it had a recognizable form and could be repeated. As soon as a signature has a recognizable and repeatable form, however, it can also be copied or counterfeited. In other words, although a signature is supposed to testify to the presence of an authentic original intention, it simultaneously sets up the possibility of an inauthentic copy. Judith Butler would later take up this same notion and apply it to gender theory, arguing that gender is essentially a performance, a citation of all previous performances of gender--rather than testifying to an innate and natural character of a person (as masculine or feminine), gender testifies to the possibility of inauthentic or parodic citations of gender (as, for example, in a drag performance).

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