open and closed texts

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‘Closed texts’ tend to encourage a single interpretation and ‘open texts’ encourage multiple interpretations. Informational texts (foregrounding content) tend to be more closed and aesthetic texts (foregrounding form) tend to be more open. Even with texts designed to be closed, interpretation depends ultimately on the purposes of the reader. Road signs such as ‘heavy plant crossing’ can be wilfully misinterpreted. Advertisements for upmarket products are often designed to be more open to interpretation, enabling their target audiences to exercise their cultural capital. See also broadcast codes; closed forms; narrative closure; narrowcast codes; open forms; preferred reading; readerly; writerly.

Subjects: Media Studies.

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