Quotationalism: A narrative device, prevalent in popular culture since the 1970s, that depends on references to or quotations from other works of popular culture. In his essay "The Simpsons, Hyper-Irony, and the Meaning of Life" (published in The Simpsons and Philosophy: The D'oh! of Homer), Carl Matheson posits that quotationalism's roots lie in Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman (a parody of soap operas) and Fernwood 2Nite (a parody of talk shows), and that the sketch-comedy show SCTV, which like the other two shows debuted in 1976, "gathered together the various strains of quotationalism and synthesized them into a deeper, more complex, and more mysterious whole." The Simpsons, which first aired in its current half-hour format in 1989, was "born ... just as the use of quotationalism was maturing," Matheson writes. The show's quotationalism is noteworthy for "its pace and density," says Matheson--and for the fact that the quotations "are very funny."
A list of popular culture quotations in a Simpsons episode from 2002 (scroll down).