Understanding intertextuality video

Duration: 3 minutes 29 seconds

Student focused video explaining the English textual concept of intertextuality.

Ms Murray (quiz master) – Hello and welcome to Once Upon a Time the game show where I tell a story and our two contestants have to predict how the story ends by using intertextuality.

[Audience ooohs]

Mahdi – Uh, Ms. Murray, what's intertextuality again?

Ms Murray (quiz master) – [reads from a book] Intertextuality is when one text refers to another in a recognizable way. Not only is this fun for the audience, [audience laughs] but it also adds layers of meaning. [Audience aaaahhhhh] Makes sense?

Mahdi – Yes

Reannah – Kind of...

Ms Murray (quiz master) – Okay. Let the game begin.

[Audience cheers and claps]

Ms Murray (quiz master) – Once upon a time, there was a rap artist named Kevin.

[Audience ooohs]

Ms Murray (quiz master) – He loved to rap, and he was the best rapper in the world.

[Audience aaahs]

Ms Murray (quiz master) – But his one real true love was his dog, Subwoofer.

[Audience aaahs]

Ms Murray (quiz master) – One day, Kevin and Subwoofer went for a walk in the streets. There, they met a stranger.

[Audience ooohs]

Ms Murray (quiz master) – Kevin was nice to the stranger, but unbeknownst to him, that stranger was a haggard old beatboxer,

[audience boos]

Ms Murray (quiz master) – who was very jealous of Kevin's success. The stranger gave Kevin an enormous doughnut, knowing that doughnuts made Kevin really sleepy. Of course, Kevin ate the doughnut and he fell into a deep, deep sleep. So deep that he missed his big rap show that night

[Audience ooohs]

Ms Murray (quiz master) – and his fans were very angry.

[Audience aaawws]

Ms Murray (quiz master) – The beatboxer was really happy. She planned to takeover as the best hip-hop artist in the world! But people missed sleeping Kevin.

[Audience aaars]

Ms Murray (quiz master) – No one knew what to do to wake Kevin up. But do you, do you know how this story ends?


Ms Murray (quiz master) – Madhi!

Mahdi – With a kiss?

Ms Murray – (quiz master) –That answer's almost right.

[Audience ooohs]


Ms Murray (quiz master) – Reannah!

Reannah – With a kiss from the beatboxer.

Ms Murray (quiz master) – That answer's not right at all.


Ms Murray (quiz master) –Madhi!

Mahdi – With a kiss from Kevin's one true love, his dog Subwoofer. Subwoofer gives Kevin a lick, and then he wakes up.

Ms Murray (quiz master) – That answer's just right!

[Fanfare plays and audience cheers]

Ms Murray (quiz master) – For a bonus point, could you tell me how you knew that's how the story would end?

Mahdi – Because it reminded me of the story of Snow White. Snow White wakes up after being kissed by her one true love.

Ms Murray (quiz master) –Excellent!


Ms Murray (quiz master) – Yes, Reannah.

Reannah – When you said "Nearly right, not right at all", and "just right" about our answers, were you referring to the way Goldilocks says "Too hot" or "Too cold" and "Just right" in Goldilocks and the Three Bears?

Ms Murray (quiz master) –Yes! It was another intertextual reference! You get a bonus point too.

Reeanah – Yes! I love intertextuality. It is so fun.

Ms Murray (quiz master) –You heard it straight from the student's mouths. That's all we have time for today on Once Upon a Time. Bye now.

End of transcript

Intertextuality professional learning video

Audience: Stage 3 teachers

Duration: 24 minutes 55 seconds

Authentically apply the concept of intertextuality to teaching and learning experiences through exploring quality texts.

Intertextuality - pushing the boundaries professional learning video

[upbeat music]


This professional learning is called 'Pushing the boundaries' because it involves thinking about texts in new ways. Often texts we are very familiar with, are used the same way each time. The beauty of using a conceptual approach, is that the concepts create a brand-new lens with which to view and explore texts.

When exploring the concept intertextuality, a great place to start is to watch the intertextuality video, which is included in the links document for this module. It is housed on the Department of Education’s website and will provide you with a definition of intertextuality along with some examples.

It is one of 15 videos that explain the core concepts in an engaging and clear way, for both teachers and students. These videos were created with the NSW English Teachers Association and The School Magazine. I would like to acknowledge and pay my respect to the First Nations people, as the Traditional Owners and ongoing custodians of the land we are all meeting on today.

I’m speaking to you from Kamilaroi country, but some may know this vast expanse of land by another name, as there are a number of variations. The artwork that you can see was created in this nation by a very talented student from Bogabilla Central School. It expresses the themes of community, school, friendship and family. So, what is Intertextuality? Intertextuality refers to relationships or connections among texts.

These interrelationships or connections may come from the composers structural or stylistic choices, like adaptation or appropriation. They are often purposefully created by the composer to shape meaning and to also influence the reader's response.

Intertextuality is everywhere and it is easier to explore than you might initially expect. Even our youngest students have enhanced experiences with texts when these intertextual connections are made. In summary, intertextuality refers to the interrelationships among and within texts that help shape a text’s meaning. The recognisable echoes of other texts intensify the experience and understanding of the text, by adding layers of meaning.

Why is it important? Recognising and understanding intertextuality leads to a rich reading experience. It invites new interpretation as it reveals another context, idea or story to the text.

As new layers of meaning are introduced, there is pleasure in the sense of connection and the continuity of texts and of cultures. These connections mean that the responder is engaging with a broader literary heritage than just a discreet text. Intertextuality also invites us to revisit familiar texts often with new insights into its meaning for our time.

Rob Pope is a Professor of English at the School of Humanities, Oxford Brookes University. He has worked in universities around the world and led staff and curriculum development projects in Australia, Central Europe, South-East Asia and the USA. In his text titled The English Studies (2002), he distinguishes between three types of intertextuality:

  • Explicit intertextuality, which is alluding specifically to another text through quotation or reference
  • Implied intertextuality, where the allusion is more indirect. It may occur through such commonalities as genre or style.
  • Inferred intertextuality, referring to the texts drawn on by the actual responder. They will likely include texts that had not even existed when the text was composed.

The concept progressions for intertextuality are outlined for Early Stage 1 through to Stage 6 on page 19 of the ‘English Textual Concepts and Learning Processes resource book'. It is recommended you explore each part of the progression, as it will help you to gain a clearer understanding of your students’ previous learning experiences, and importantly, the ‘where to next’.

This is crucial in effectively planning and differentiating teaching and learning. This resource can help in shaping pre-assessment, as well as providing a vocabulary base with which to build upon. You may want to pause this video now to further explore these progressions through the English Textual Concepts website, using the link provided.

Now let's talk about how to plan for quality teaching and learning experiences that develop student understanding of intertextuality. Here is where the English textual concepts and learning processes sit within the teaching and learning cycle. The learning processes I am referring to can be found on pages 34 to 44 of the ‘grey book.’

Effective teaching and learning occurs when conceptual knowledge, texts, syllabus outcomes and assessment align to challenge and extend what students already know. The structure of the teaching and learning cycle guides our practice.

We always start with the NSW English Syllabus and the outcome or outcomes students are working to achieve. Factor in the content and text requirements in the syllabus and select the most suitable texts that are fit for purpose. Do the texts you’ve selected meet the needs and interests of your students?

Then layer in the English textual concepts and learning processes using the three concept structure, which we will discuss further in a moment. Our understanding builds to ’planning and programming’, then ‘classroom practice’. We use our knowledge to design and implement units of works, resources and teaching activities. When planning and programming, ask yourself:

  • What outcomes do students need to achieve?
  • What do the students need to learn and be able to do?
  • Which textual concepts are appropriate for this unit of learning or learning experience?
  • What assessment would allow students to best demonstrate their conceptual knowledge and understanding?
  • How will each process shape the learning experience?
  • What text or texts will enable students to engage with, understand and appreciate the concept or concepts?

As with all units of work, begin your planning with the syllabus. This outcome for Stage 3 falls under Objective C: think in ways that are imaginative, creative, interpretive and critical. Here are some examples of content points that work towards achieving the outcomes through the lens of Intertextuality. You may like to pause the video now so you can read through these. Now that you have an understanding of what intertextuality is and why it is important, let's discuss what it looks like in a Stage 3 classroom.

Intertextuality occurs across and within modes and may occur through adaptation of structure and style. A whole text may be appropriated for a new audience and purpose. Appropriation, to take as your own, can occur within different modes and media. Transformation, adaptation and appropriation, gives great opportunities for originality. Using the terminology from the dot points in the Stage 3 statement, form the focus ‘how’ and ‘why’ questions. For example:

  • How can adaptation of structure and style be used by composers to create intertextuality?
  • Why might composers appropriate whole texts for different audiences and purposes, modes and media?
  • What opportunities for originality exist when transforming texts?

Now let’s move onto examples of specific teaching and learning activities. David Walliams, is an English comedian, actor, author, and television personality. He was also appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 2017 for services to charity and the arts. He has written many books, including this one, ‘Gangsta Granny’. It is a humorous novel, well-supported with engaging illustrations.

You wouldn't know that this text involves dancing, looking at the title page, but indeed there are multiple refences to a reality TV dancing show and competitions throughout. Ben, the protagonist, has parents who are obsessed with dance. They, particularly his mother, plan and plot for him to become a dance star, but he wants to be a plumber and dreads dancing.

I am going to read to you an excerpt from pages 12 and 13 of ‘Gangsta Granny’. I'm doing this to illustrate the intertextual references, many more of which can be found throughout the novel. It will also help you to start recognising the features of his style of writing.

Narrator reading from ‘Gangsta Granny’ by David Walliams:

Now, Ben's mum and dad loved ballroom dancing. Sometimes, Ben thought they loved it more than they loved him. There was a TV show on Saturday evenings that Mum and Dad never missed called 'Strictly Stars Dancing', where celebrities would be paired with professional ballroom dancers.

In fact, if there was a fire in their house, and Mum could only save either a sparkly gold tap-shoe worn by Flavio Flavioli (the shiny, tanned dancer and heartbreaker from Italy who appeared on every single series of the hit TV show) or her only child, Ben thought she would probably go the shoe. Tonight, his mum and dad were going to an arena to see 'Strictly Stars Dancing' live on stage.


This is the three concept structure, I referred to earlier. The text 'Gangsta Granny' was selected here as it clearly represents the mentor concept – intertextuality. The excerpt read is an example of implied intertextuality. Can you tell which reality television show the author is referencing, despite his transformation of the name? Does this help to build layers of meaning? And humour?

Through the following sample activity, students learn about the concept of intertextuality. I will make mention to how you can investigate supporting concepts within the same text and others written by David Walliams, in this case: Style and Character. Through discussions, students can begin to understand that particular styles result from the use of identifiable language features.

And that characters may be complex or simple, change or remain unchanging, and have individual characteristics or be based on a stereotype. Notice how Code and convention runs across because an understanding of the Code and conventions of a text is vital to making meaning. The patterns provided by codes and conventions in a text are cues for our understanding.

When exploring the mentor concept Intertextuality, students will develop an understanding that authors make connections to other texts. These connections may be, as we discussed before; explicit, implied and inferred.

As part of the 'understanding' learning process, you could read to the end of chapter one – 'Cabbagy Water' where the excerpt I read is found. You could then ask students to work in pairs or small groups to draw, or even dramatise what 'Strictly Stars Dancing Live' may look like.

Support students to identify any features they included in their drawing or drama that are additional to what is described in the text. You may choose to record responses using a Venn diagram. Ask and discuss: Why did you include this particular feature? What television shows do you think might look a little like 'Strictly Stars Dancing'?

You may like to share an image or clip from the Australian version of a popular TV dance show at this point to enhance discussion. This is the time to introduce and explain the concepts of appropriation and transformation. The author has appropriated and transformed the television show 'Dancing with the Stars' and the name of the 1992 Australian movie, 'Strictly Ballroom'.

This is part of the skill of David Walliams, he adds layers of humour that appeal to the adults who are reading these texts with children. He adds layers of meaning, while embracing originality, such as the creation of Flavio Flavioli.

To support the mentor concept of Intertextuality, I have identified the concepts character and style. Discussion points with students can include: How has David Walliams used verbal and visual statements to develop characters? Exploration of style occurs when students observe the author's written expression and strong stylistic modes.

How can we recognise a David Walliams text without knowing it's his? What can we say about his style? You might like to address the fact that David Walliams is well known in England as a TV actor, comedian and author, so in that context his style may be quite obvious.

For our Australian context, he may be less well known, but his style of writing is still attributable. The code and conventions worth exploring in this text, include the strategic use of alliteration, different font to emphasise particular words, the text path and at times, the creative use of punctuation.

I would use this text, 'The Three Pigs', in conjunction with 'Gangsta Granny' to further explore intertextuality. This picture book was written and illustrated by David Wiesner. It won a Caldecott Medal, which is an annual award for the most distinguished American picture book.

It starts with the familiar story, ‘The Three Little Pigs’ but the pigs, rather than being under constant threat of the Big Bad Wolf, as we would expect, escape the text, by means of a page folded into a paper plane. The pigs then enter the traditional nursery rhyme, 'Hey, Diddle Diddle' and then appropriated familiar characters or props we often see in traditional fairy tales. a dragon and a rose, pop into the story. The protagonists from these tales and nursery rhyme join the three pigs and return to the original text, where they transform the ending.

This text is an excellent example of explicit intertextuality, and textual appropriation and adaptation. As illustrated in the three concept model, rich conversations and learning experiences surrounding narrative and literary value can also be facilitated through the use of this picture book.

Students can begin to develop an understanding that there are conventions of the narrative form that combine to involve responders in the story. By recognising the familiar tales within the text, discussions can be had about texts being designated as ‘highly valued’.

This concept is called literary value. Texts are considered valuable because of their universal and timeless appeal. Again, code and convention runs across because an understanding of the code and convention of a text is vital to communicating how meaning is made. In this instance – speech bubbles and the framing of images.

When reading 'The Three Pigs', there are many opportunities for rich discussions about the circular narrative structure, the story ending where it began, and characters, setting, complication and resolution. The tales transformed within the narrative have high literary value. You could also ask:

  • What makes these tales popular/highly valued?
  • Why are they considered to have a timeless appeal?

Opportunities for originality exist in transforming texts, as this picture book demonstrates. As part of the 'engaging critically' learning process, you could ask students to consider other traditional tales, such as ‘Three Billy Goats Gruff’, ‘The Gingerbread Man’ or ‘Hansel and Gretel’.

How could the protagonist from a different story also lead to a changed ending for the three pigs? How could you appropriate and adapt the story in a way that will engage the reader? Ask students to rewrite the ending using a protagonist from a different traditional tale. Students may like to include images to support their composition.

By embedding monitoring and assessment strategies throughout the teaching and learning cycle, teachers are best equipped to extend the learning of all individuals in their classroom. Effective assessment practices are responsive and result in change to teacher practice, based on student need.

When planning and programming, you may choose to create learning intentions and success criteria for a whole unit, or each individual learning process. Ensure these are student-friendly and linked to the syllabus outcomes and content points you have identified. The use of learning intentions and success criteria provides an excellent tool to ensure feedback is specific and constructive. Students can engage in personal reflection and receive feedback from their peers and teachers through discussions, checklists and other creative forms, such as exit slips.

For example, after the 'Gangsta Granny' learning activity discussed earlier, students could complete an exit slip in the last five minutes of the lesson, answering the question: What is textual appropriation? To extend learners, you may also ask: What does it mean when a text is transformed?

This inital understanding is required for students to be able to demonstrate the content point: explore and discuss simple appropriation of texts. Summative assessment allows the teacher to determine the degree to which students have achieved the unit outcomes. The assessment should involve clear criteria, possibly in the form of a student-friendly rubric. This will ensure students gain a clear understanding of the expectations and specific feedback can be provided. It would also allow for assessment moderation across classes and cohorts.

In regards to the aspects of a learning sequence discussed in this module, a summative assessment could involve students selecting a traditional tale, like 'Hansel and Gretel', and adapting it in innovative ways, to appeal to a specified audience. Within the rubric would be levelled statements linked directly to the focus outcomes and content points. When planning units of work, it is helpful to refer to the five elements of effective assessment practice. You may wish to use the link provided to explore these elements further.

When selecting texts, remember that a text that is used in the Early Stage 1 to Stage 1 classroom can most likely be used in the Stage 2 to Stage 3 classroom as well, however, the same cannot be assumed the other way. A text recommended for Stage 3 is unlikely to be a good fit for Early Stage 1.

It is also important to remember that a whole text doesn’t need to be read every time. A chapter or paragraph may be a perfect illustration of intertextuality. Have a clear purpose in your mind when choosing a text. These texts are appropriate for exploring various aspects of intertextuality for Stage 3. This is by no means an exhaustive list, and as we know, a text should serve multiple concepts.

It is important to note that intertextuality can be observed in artworks, advertisements and other modes too. You may know of, or discover, other texts that could be used to teach the concept of intertextuality. A shared document for intertextuality text suggestions has been created and we would very much welcome your contributions to this. You will see the link here, on the screen. It is also in the 'Intertextuality module links' document.

For further information, resources and to engage in collegial discussions, you may find the following links helpful. The English Textual Concepts website is the 'go to' for further information and resources surrounding the concepts and learning processes. On the English curriculum website, you will find the English Textual concepts videos, which are staff and student friendly.

There are also links to professional learning, information about selecting and exploring quality literature, learning sequences and more. Resources are continually uploaded to this page, so it is a good idea to add it to your favourites and revisit regularly. Statewide Staffrooms share announcements and resources, and provide opportunities for staff to engage in professional discussions. Use the link to find out more and subscribe to the staffroom or staffrooms that are relevant to your context.

Remember the English Curriculum Team is always here to answer questions, discuss ideas and receive feedback. We can be reached using the email listed.

[upbeat music]

[End of transcript]

Related links from the video

Download the document, Intertextuality – pushing the boundaries links (DOCX 70KB), for access to links mentioned in the video.

Resource essentials

The essential resources for planning teaching and learning through the English Textual Concepts and Learning Processes are:

Teaching standards

This session contributes to the achievement of the following professional standard:
  • 6.2.2 Participate in learning to update knowledge and practice targeted to professional needs and school and/or system priorities.

This professional learning also aligns with the Great Teaching, Inspired Learning initiative to enhance quality teaching and assessment practices.

Related reading

Please note:

English K-10 Syllabus © 2012 Copyright NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA) for and on behalf of the Crown in right of the State of New South Wales.

English Textual Concepts and Learning Processes, and Related Syllabus Content © State of New South Wales, Department of Education, 2017 Learning and Teaching Directorate

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