Kairos 19.3


Tweets that showed Intertextual traces were those "that overtly or unconsciously had its full meaning in the understanding of a larger context." My use of intertextual is borrowed from James Porter's (1986) discussion in "Intertextuality and the Discourse Community" and Charles Bazerman's (2003) "Intertextuality: How Texts Rely on Other Texts." Porter's piece is informed by work on intertextuality by the post-structuralists' reading that all text is intertext. That is, all writing exhibits and borrows from other texts. For my purposes, I am looking first to Porter's (1986) definition that intertextuality is "the bits and pieces of Text which writers or speakers borrow and sew together to create new discourse" (p. 34). Second, and perhaps more importantly, I am looking to Porter's (1986) description of the social life of intertextual discourse: "By identifying and stressing the intertextual nature of discourse . . . we shift our attention away from the writer as individual and focus more on the sources and social contexts from which the writer's discourse arises. According to this view, authorial intention is less significant than social context; the writer is simply a part of a discourse tradition, a member of a team, and a participant in a community of discourse that creates its own collective meaning" (pp. 34–35). One cannot remove discourse from the community in which the author operates. As such, intertexts teach us less about the author than the author's discourse community.

Porter (1986) broke down intertextuality into two instances: iterability (repeating fragments of text) and presupposition (presumptions a text makes about its context and readers) (p. 35). Bazerman (2003) broke intertextuality down even further into five instances, with the most relevant for our purposes being "using certain implicitly recognizable kinds of language, phrasing, and genres, [which] evokes particular social worlds where such language and language forms are used, usually to identify that text as part of those worlds" (p. 87).

Each of the tweets coded as Intertextual have their full meaning within a larger understanding of a lineage of the Springsteen fan discourse community, including, but not limited to, the discourses used to discuss Springsteen-related activity as well as archival documents such as set lists, the number of times a song has been performed, and concert histories. Set list knowledge is a complex system that includes databases, spreadsheets, and dedication—and fans spend a significant amount of time discussing what distinguishes a good set list from an epic set list, how the songs and the themes within them must flow naturally from one to the next. Many (including Springsteen) see set lists as the spine of the story that will be told that particular evening. Each night is slightly different because Springsteen is consistently revising in an effort to best tell the story he is hoping to tell. The more the tour premieres, the more the set list means to the fans in the audience and the more the fans yearn to be in the audience.

For example, Springsteen played 24 songs during the April 4, 2012 concert at the Izod Center, including five tour premieres: "The Ties that Bind," "Candy's Room," "Johnny 99," "Racing in the Street," and "Ramrod." Below is a bar graph of all song titles mentioned in the corpus:

Bar chart listing the set list, tour premieres, and how often each song was mentioned in the tweets.

The songs tweeted more than once tended to be tour premieres ("Trapped," though not a premiere, is a huge fan favorite). That these were tweeted so often suggests the authors were aware of their discourse community, presumed the discourse community would understand the significance of their tweets, and used language familiar to the community to help their messages get across. Consider the following tweets:

Example Corpus Tweet

Tonight's @springsteen setlist is stunning. Boy did I pick the wrong night to go. Gonna cry now

Example Corpus Tweet

THE TIES THAT BIND. Hell yes. #Springsteen #meadowlands

Example Corpus Tweet

Springsteen played Johnny 99. All is well

Coding a Tweet

Example Corpus Tweet

Ties That Bind! Jackson Cage! Johnny 99! Racing in the Street! Trapped! Thanks, @Springsteen & E St Band for scorching show. See ya Friday!

  • Open Coding

    The first stage in a grounded theory analysis is open coding. During open coding, researchers create an extensive list of characteristics about each unit of analysis. For my study, each tweet was a unit of analysis. The goal of open coding is for researchers to get to know the data more fully.

    During open coding for the above tweet, the following open codes were applied:

    a tweet that contains @springsteen

    a tweet that mentions the E Street Band or any of its members individually

    a tweet about a concert on the Wrecking Ball tour
    other than the one for the corpus under study

    a tweet posted after the concert or about post-concert events

    a tweet that contains a Springsteen song title

  • Axial Coding

    After open coding, I decided to focus on tweets posted before, during, and after the April 4, 2012 concert at the Izod Center. Because this tweet was posted before the concert, it was included in the study.

    The next stage is axial coding. During axial coding, a researcher is looking to better understand phenomena within the unit of analysis. When completing this stage, I asked myself, "What is this tweet doing?" I asked this question because the answer is active, often in the form of a gerund, which Kathy Charmaz (2006) recommended using when axially coding data. More than one code can be applied to each tweet, so I applied a primary code and one or more secondary codes where appropriate.

    Primary Code: Narrating: A tweet describing or depicting one’s own events at a concert.

    Secondary Codes: Critiquing; intertextual; notifying; perpetuating; reporting

  • Why Intertextual as Secondary Code and Narrating as a Primary Code?

    I spent considerable time debating whether the primary code for this tweet should be Narrating or Reporting. Ultimately, I decided it was the author's experience of seeing a concert with those songs that was of primary significance for the author. Reporting the list of songs became a part of her celebration of the event, not the other way around.

    Each song mentioned was an intertextual reference, the significance of which the author presupposed (Porter, 1986) her followers in the Springsteen discourse community would understand. The author was employing an intertextual activity of the discourse community (Bazerman, 2003) by listing tour premiers and one fan favorite played during the encore. By mentioning the songs, the fan showed an awareness that Springsteen concerts exist within a lineage of other concerts. In other words, she understood the concert to be a text composed of texts that existed within a lineage of other texts.