The UVic Writer's Guide


Indeterminacy


Several modern approaches to language and literature propose that the meaning of a text can never be fully determined or fixed because the immediate meaning of a text is the result of the particular cultural and social background of the reader; further, the nature of language itself is such that the author's original "intention" cannot itself have been fixed and definite when the work was originally created, quite apart from the tendency of language to generate its own meaning over time.

That a text is inevitably indeterminate does not mean that all readings are of equal validity; it does mean, however, that all meanings we draw from it are partial and provisional, and that what we write about it is itself a text, open to further interpretation. See Ambiguity , Intertext, Intertextuality.


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Copyright, The Department of English, University of Victoria, 1995
This page updated September 23, 1995