The Changing Spaces of Reading and Writing


What is Text?

Posting by Caroline Faber

I was instantly drawn to the quote stating text is “essentially a vehicle for transmitting information and concepts.”  The idea is simple and basic, opening up the doors to more complex notions.  Text is a technology created to further enhance commmunication and from this, we can explore text further, in more complex capacities.

I was intrigued by the idea that text is necessarily comprised of 5 intrinsic values.  Texts are:

  1. Real:  they have properties independent of our interests in them and theories about them,
  2. Abstract:  the objects which constitute texts are abstract, not material objects,
  3. Intentional:  texts are, necessarily, the product of mental acts,
  4. Hierarchical: the structure of texts is fundamentally heirarchical,
  5. Linguistic:  texts are linguistic objects; renditional features are not part of texts, and therefore not proper locations for textual meanings.”

…and now I anticipate challenging this to see if I can find examples of where this may not apply and underlying reasons for any exceptions.

Renear, A., McGann, J., and Hockey, S.  (1999)  What is Text?  A debate on the philisophical and epistomological nature of text in the light of humanities computing research.  University of Michigan.  Accessed at:


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