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Georgetown University
Intertextuality and metadiscourse in an online community: “Fixing” posts and “locking” threads

Intertextuality – the idea that all texts and conversations are linked to other texts and conversations, and that people make and infer meanings in discourse through making and interpreting these links – is fundamentally connected to metadiscourse, that is, discourse about discourse. In this talk, I explore the specific ways in which, and for what purposes, these phenomena are intertwined at the micro-interactional level in one online community. Using the perspective of interactional sociolinguistics to examine users’ posts to discussion boards affiliated with a popular weight loss app, I focus on two inherently metadiscursive activities: when a user “fixes” another poster’s post (i.e., by adjusting the content and adding some version of “I fixed it for you”) and when a discussion board moderator “locks” a thread that has violated one or more community guidelines (i.e., by posting a message that announces the guideline violation and indicates that future posts to the thread will be prohibited). I identify and explicate intertextual linking strategies that facilitate these activities, both linguistic (e.g., word repetition, deictic pronouns) and multimodal (e.g., emojis, symbols, and GIFs). I also highlight the role of these actions in constructing shared understandings, interactional norms, and engagement in the community.


Cynthia Gordon is Associate Professor of Linguistics at Georgetown University. Her research focuses on how meanings, relationships, and identities are constructed in digital discourse, in food-related communication, and in family interaction. Gordon is author of two books: Making Meanings, Creating Family: Intertextuality and Framing in Family Interaction and Intertextuality 2.0: Metadiscourse and Meaning-Making in an Online Community (both Oxford University Press). She is co-editor of Approaches to Discourse Analysis (Georgetown University Press) and co-editor (with Alla Tovares) of Identity and Ideology in Digital Food Discourse: Social Media Interactions Across Cultural Contexts (Bloomsbury).

Zoom Details

Zoom link: https://hku.zoom.us/j/97158415907?pwd=K3paTStLVjR3L0N1eHFpa2w0OEREUT09

Meeting ID: 971 5841 5907
Password: 800333

Livestream will be available at Room CRT-7.45, 7/F, Run Run Shaw Tower, Centennial Campus, HKU