Kristeva’s work on intertextuality suggests that texts do not just use other texts but rather they transform them; in this manner, the text is revolutionary. The dominant social structure struggles to maintain power by presenting words as concrete, stabile units where the relation between the signifier and the signified is fixed. Such a constricted sign system allows for no other possibilities than that which the dominant power presents. Kristeva asserts that intertextual works expose the multiplicity of words and thereby threatens the unitary stability of the dominant social structure. Intertextual works therefore both acknowledge their inherited words and use them to look critically at the social system in which the words were used.
While Kristeva’s main point of intertextual discussion in literature concerned only the written word, her ideas add dimensions when applied to dramatic texts, because drama broadens the space of intertextual reference to include other senses. Cecilie Løveid is a contemporary Norwegian dramatist who deliberately uses intertextuality as a tool in order to explicitly show both the connection between her works and their dramatic predecessors and how her plays challenge “transcendental signifieds” (to borrow Kristeva’s term) in her society such as nation and gender roles. In her radio play Måkespisere, Løveid’s references to figures and themes from Ibsen’s Gengangere show that Ibsen’s shocking social commentary on the artifice and façade of the family structure is still pertinent today. However, Løveid uses the references to go beyond Ibsen’s commentary and challenge the dominant system’s rigid gender roles within the nation-state at war as well as within the family. Løveid uses the weight a literary tradition to call into question for the audience dominant views on contemporary gender and national roles.
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