What Is Textuality?

Glossary of grammatical and rhetorical terms

What Is Texuality
 Robert Scholes, <i>English After the Fall: From Literature to Textuality</i> (University of Iowa Press, 2011)

In linguistics and literary studies, the property by which successive sentences form a coherent text in contrast to a random sequence.

Textuality is a key concept in post-structuralist theory. In their study Translation as Text (1992), A. Neubert and G.M. Shreve define textuality as "the complex set of features that texts must have to be considered texts. Textuality is a property that a complex linguistic object assumes when it reflects certain social and communicative constraints."


  • The Domains of Texture, Structure, and Context
    "The three basic domains of textuality . . . are texture, structure, and context. The term 'texture' covers the various devices used in establishing continuity of sense and thus making a sequence of sentences operational (i.e. both cohesive and coherent). . . .

    "Another source from which texts derive their cohesion and acquire the necessary coherence is structure. This assists us in our attempt to perceive specific compositional plans in what otherwise would only be a disconnected sequence of sentences. Structure and texture thus work together, with the former providing the outline, and the latter fleshing out the details. . . .

    "In dealing with structure and texture, we rely on higher-order contextual factors which determine the way a given sequence of sentences serves a specific rhetorical purpose such as arguing or narrating (i.e. becomes what we have called 'text')."
    (Basil Hatim and Ian Mason, The Translator as Communicator. Routledge, 1997)
  • What Is a 'Text'?
    "There are various senses in which a piece of writing may be said to be a 'text.' The word 'text' itself is the past participle stem of the Latin verb texere, to weave, intertwine, plait, or (of writing) compose. The English words 'textile' and 'texture' also derive from the same Latin word. This etymology of the word 'text' is apparent in expressions that refer to the 'weaving' of a story, the 'thread' of an argument, or the 'texture' of a piece of writing. A 'text' may thus be taken to be a weaving or a network of analytic, conceptual, logical, and theoretical relations that is woven with the threads of language. This implies that language is not a transparent medium through which arguments are expressed, . . . but is interwoven with or provides the very filaments of the substantive arguments themselves."
    (Vivienne Brown, "Textuality and the History of Economics." A Companion to the History of Economic Thought, ed. by W. J. Samuels et al. Blackwell, 2003)
  • Texts, Textuality, and Texture
    "The proper business of literary criticism is the description of readings. Readings consist of the interaction of texts and humans. Humans are comprised of minds, bodies and shared experiences. Texts are the objects produced by people drawing on these resources. Textuality is the outcome of the workings of shared cognitive mechanics, evident in texts and readings. Texture is the experienced quality of textuality."
    (Peter Stockwell, Texture: A Cognitive Aesthetics of Reading. Edinburgh University Press, 2009)
  • Textuality and Teaching
    "As I see it, textuality has two aspects. One is the broadening of the objects we study and teach to include all the media and modes of expression. . . . Expanding the range of texts is one aspect of studies in textuality. The other . . . has to do with changing the way we look at texts to combine the perspectives of creator and consumer, writer and reader. Both of these aspects of textuality have to do with helping students open their minds and expand their vision of how texts work and what they do. The larger goal of textuality is the opening of a wider world of culture for students . . ..
    "The study of textuality involves looking at works that function powerfully in our world, and considering both what they mean and how they mean."
    (Robert Scholes, English After the Fall: From Literature to Textuality. University of Iowa Press, 2011)  

    Also Known As: texture