Dissemination: Literally, “the sowing of seeds,” usually used more generally to refer to other forms of scattering or dispersal, such as in the expression “the dissemination of ideas.” In traditional literary criticism, the term dissemination has sometimes been used to refer to the way in which earlier works influence later ones across the generations, almost as if words were seeds carried by the winds of time from one literary era to the next.
More recently, dissemination has been used quite differently to refer to the way in which the meaning of a given word scatters, spreads, or disperses. This usage implies that any word or word-cluster inevitably means different things to different readers, in part because every word has a complex etymology and is embedded in a web of diverse (and often contradictory) connotations. Jacques Derrida, the Algerian-born French theorist of deconstruction, wrote about this kind of linguistic dissemination, arguing that competing linguistic forces render the meaning of any utterance indeterminable. According to Derrida, the act of using language inevitably produces a “surplus” and “spilling” of meaning that preclude the definite ascension of any one meaning over another. For this reason, deconstructors have spoken of the undecidability of the text.