Intratextual Spatialization

Karin Wenz, Assistant Professor of English, University of Kassel

A specific textual technique in text and hypertext which produces a further narrative dimension is mise en abîme. It is a device of mirroring a content or a specific textual structure to different points in texts and thus creates different levels of textuality. The term originates from heraldry. Shields in the middle ages used to be decorated with coats of arms depicting the knight's personal heraldry. Thereby the spatial impression of depth or even of an abyss (French: "abîme") is created. (Such a semiotic technique was picked up in postmodern literature). It leads to a multiplication of a topic in a spatial and not in a temporal mode. It is a form of telling and showing at the same time, a kind of repetition of same entities, a reflexive structuration, which results in a front to back dimensionality, thus creating a three-dimensional narrative space.

see also the example of intratextuality in Myst