Key words (below)
 Text as a term from semiotics (below)
 Text as a term in media & cultural studies (below)
 Radio-as-text (below)
 Glossary (to another page)

Key words: text, context, intertextuality, genre, discourse, authorship, oeuvre



Text as a term from semiotics

We begin with the concept of a radio drama play as a text (semiotics).

Text opens out other concerns - the context in which it was made, the context in which it functions.

And what are the other texts to which this relates (genre, intertextuality)?

And the author (playwright)?

Text - as part of a theory system - originates from semiotics.

Text is used across cultural and media studies for everything we 'read' - both in the Lifeworld (we live in), and in fictionalised representation (radio play, novel, poem, radio drama, painting, cybertext, TV programme etc.).

Text as a term in media & cultural studies


Ron Lembo in Thinking through Television, provides a useful survey discussion (Lembo, 2000, 63-4). He points out that the term text 'enjoys a near universal appeal in cultural studies'. Also 'By conceptualizing television as a text, cultural studies analysts identify the specific and multiple forms that power takes in programming as well as a wide range of interpretive responses in which power is constituted as something meaningful by people.'

Lembo refers to Hall (1989, 1975), Brundson (1991), Morley (1994, 1986, 1980), Silverstone (1995), Ang (1985), Radway (1984), Allen (1987).

Gripsrud argues against the 'extreme position' taken by John Fiske's 'Moments of television: neither the text nor the audience' (Fiske 1989), where the notion of the text as a carrier of meaning is done away with altogether (Gripsrud, 1995, 9).


Lembo, Ron, 2000, Thinking through Television, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Fiske, John (1989b): 'Moments of television: neither the text nor the audience'. In Ellen Seiter, Hans Borchers, Gabriel Kreutzner & Eva-Maria Warth (Eds.): Remote Control: Television, Audiences and Cultural Power. London: Routledge

Fiske, John, 1989, Understanding Popular Culture, Boston: Unwin Hyman.

Gripsrud, J., 1995, The Dynasty Years. Hollywood Television and Critical Media Studies. New York and London: Routledge.

Morley, David. 1994. Television, Audiences, and Cultural Studies. New York:
Morley, David. 1986. Family Television and Domestic Leisure. London: Comedia.
Morley, David. 1980. The Nationwide Audience. London: British Film Institute.

Fiske, John. 1987. Television Culture. London: Methuen.

Hall, Stuart. 1980. "Cultural Studies: Two Paradigms." Media, Culture, and Society 2, 57-72.

Hall, Stuart. 1975. "Television as a Medium and Its Relation to Culture." Stencilled Occasional Paper, Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies. Birmingham, England.

Hall, Stuart, Dorothy Hobson, Andrew Lowe, and Paul Willis, (eds.). 1980. Culture, Media, Language. London: Hutchinson.

Further terms - text/reader relationship

 FOCUS TEXT: the text under enquiry (See http://www.georgetown.edu/users/kac42/intertext3.htm)
 INTERTEXTUALITY: the relationship of the focus text to other texts. The receiver of the text (audience/viewer-listener/listener etc.) bases a reading on his or her individual experience of prior texts, knowledge of their cultural signification, individual's organisation through schema (see audiences (reception theory))
 INTRATEXTUAL: features that arise within the context of the work itself.


Radio drama as a text

Beck, Alan, 2000, 'Playing by ear: new ways of teaching and researching radio drama', Studies in Theatre and Performance online, December 2000

4.4 'Is there a text in this classroom?'
Radio plays are mysterious, for they are evanescent and yet recorded. Students rarely have a printed script available of a radio play, though the B.B.C. stores these in the Written Archives in Caversham. So technically, the 'text' of a radio play exists. For me, the broadcast production is the 'text' for all radio plays, except those in the 'canon' (3.4). But text is a contested theoretical area, all the more so in radio. Does the text always exist as an entity apart from the reader?
Stanley Fish famously asked ' Is there a text in this classroom?' (Fish 1980) and raised the possibility of its non-existence. Gripsrud, from communications studies, replied (contra Fish) that the text is a 'definable object separate from both producers and recipients' and it is the 'primary link between producers and audiences' (Gripsrud, 1995, 9). Drama students come from other courses mainly dependent on 'the playscript, both as a standard of excellence and as the foremost implement of theatre research' (Mayer, 1977, 257). My students are confronted with piles of cassettes and CDs, and live broadcast.
So I use the term text, relying on cultural semiotics and film studies, with more confidence of radio drama than of radio as a whole. Each play has a tune-in and a cut-off, and is narrative, fictional and with closure. It has its own valid, overall organisation or network or system. This latter is what Metz says of film (Metz, 1974, 63). However, I have difficulty with 'text' as applied across each and every radio genre (talk, music, sports, etc.). The 'system' and the particular 'network in which everything holds together' (Metz) is so different in the flow of broadcasting, and 'text' presumes that all meaning is built on the model of language. So Andrew Crisell says of radio: 'There is no … text' (Crisell, 1994, 5).


To Analysing radio drama
To Radio Drama Theory Lesson Plan








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