Skip to content

1.2 Authority and texts - Advanced

We can apply ideas of authority to our understanding of the relationship between composer, responder and text as this too is a democratic relationship.

Author = Government of NSW
Text = Its regulations and publications through the Centre for Road Safety
Responder = People of NSW

And we can ask the same question: Where does authority over meaning lie? Does it lie with:

  • the composer(s) of the text
  • the responder who interprets it
  • the demands of the medium of production, or
  • the pressures on meaning by those who are stakeholders in the text?

How much is authority limited by such pressures on the text such as context, form, medium?

What do these terms mean?

Look up the etymology of author, authority and text. A quick way is to go to which outlines the etymology of the words and links directly to a dictionary definition. 

Individual task
Complete the student worksheet 1.2.1 – Spider diagram (Advanced)

Who says what a text means?

In groups:

  1. Compare your spider diagrams and discuss:
    • Do any of the words have a wider range of meanings than you realised before you did this exercise?
    • Do any of the meanings or your associations seem unexpected or incongruent with those of others?
  2. Using the definitions of the terms, discuss the validity of the following statements:
    1. The author is the creative genius behind a text.
    2. Our role as readers is to discover the meaning of the text that the author intended.
    3. The authority to interpret a text lies with the reader. 
    4. When readers exercise authority over a text, they need to realise that their power to interpret is shaped by their personal and cultural contexts.

What is your understanding of the words ‘text’, ‘authority’ and ‘author’ now that you have completed the work in this section? What do you understand about how we make meaning in and from texts?

Last update: 23rd January 2019