Don't Eat With Your Mouth Full

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steepholm steepholm
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Calling Lit. Crit. types
A graduate student of mine has just asked the following...

I am struggling to find the appropriate term to define everything related to a text that it is not the text, or the book as a physical object. I mean everything from websites to merchandising, video games, apps, etc. I don't think that it is paratext or peritext, and I am sure there must be a word that implies all these, but I can't find it. Any thoughts?

It does indeed seem that such a word ought to exist, but if it does I'm blanking it. Can you help?

Now that is a very good question to which I don't have an answer!


I think that's something more specific.

(Deleted comment)
Promising - although that tends to refer to a single product. Perhaps "tie-inosphere, for the whole shebang?

I suggested "cultural peritext" as a stop-gap.

I've seen a term like that used, but as usual I have a glimpse of my terminal, which means I read it on line. Stupid useless visual memory.

I tried calling a friend who would know, if anyone would, but he is at work.

I would use paratext, myself. Why does your student reject it?

I imagine she thinks it's too narrow, suggesting cover design, endpapers, blurb, and other aspects of the physical book, rather than the whole paraphernalia of websites, video games, etc. But perhaps it's a term on the move?

Edited at 2014-09-25 07:08 pm (UTC)

I don't know if other people are using it that way, but it would be my pick, and presumably she would have to explain what the array of things she's referring to is ("the wide array of material related to this text, which I will refer to collectively as the paratext").

But I wrote a paper years ago on lesbian subtext in Bring It On in which I made use of similar material. Let me give a quick scan and see what I did...

Apparently what I did was to save it in an earlier flash drive that is now no longer accessible. But a good reference to turn to would be Patricia Wells's Uninvited, on lesbian representation in studio-era movies; Wells writes a lot about how fan magazines and rumors regarding actresses' sexualities were imported into audiences' understandings of the movies they then starred in, and she might have a good word or phrase to use.

Thanks - I'll check out the Wells! It sounds pretty similar to the kind of use my student's making.

I can't. But with permission to repost I'd love to ask my readers the same question...

Oh, be my guest!


That evokes "damage" for me! But I rather like it.

So far as I am concerned...

... the word is, bluntly, 'marketing'. Some may prefer 'merchandising'.

Re: So far as I am concerned...

I think that's right, seen from one angle, but my student is interested in it as a vehicle of meaning. I think the kind of question she has in mind is the status of the information to be found in such material. For example, if we learn from the official website or spin-off colouring book that our hero's mother has a wooden leg (a point unmentioned in the text) can that be regarded as canonical?

Re: So far as I am concerned...

The peripherals? The authorized extensions (assuming she wants to exclude fan stuff)? The extended canon? The surrounding sources?

Re: So far as I am concerned...

I rather like "authorized extensions"!

Ah. THAT, I shd think ...

... might be called deuterocanonical.

I admit to some asperity in my prior answer; but really, even as I am willing to admit that Ye Boke of Pysse-Takyng or what have you is High Art and Serious Lit'rachoor, I am dismayed these days by the po-faced way in wh, too often, the associated tat, from stuffed toys to vests with the title printed on them, is regarded. (MSP tends to rant, in his learned-in-the-law fashion, to the effect that books are like contracts in American law, or wills, and nothing matters save what is within the 'four corners of the document': a position I rather sympathise with.)

Re: Ah. THAT, I shd think ...

I like deuterocanonical - a word that certainly deserves popularization!

I sympathize with that position too, because it would make life a lot simpler, but alas the reading practices about which my student is writing don't respect it.

(Deleted comment)
I like Schadentext!


I like it. Maybe a bit broad, but I'll mention it to her.

Supporting material?

It covers it essentially, doesn't it? Perhaps a tad textbook-y, though.

Ancillary material? I suppose that's just a fancier word for the same thing, though.

well ... to use corporate terms ... collateral?

That's definitely a possibility.


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