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FYI: Semiotics on the Web

Author: alan harris

FYI Body: =============================================
FYI ("for your information")// cheers, ach

Guide to Visual Semiotics:
(Steven Skaggs,Louisville)

Semiotics for Beginners:

Semiotics information:

Meyer's bookmarks:


Semiotic Review of Books (SRB), edited by Paul Bouissac (French,
Toronto), at the URL I quote from the

"The Semiotic Review of Books (SRB, 1990--) is a
multidisciplinary journal publishing exclusively review
articles. It endeavours to monitor those domains in the
Humanities, the Social and the Natural Sciences which bear upon
symbolic and communicative behaviour, cognitive systems and
processes, cultural transmission and innovations, and the study
of information, meaning and signification in all forms. "This
refereed journal provides its readership with accurate and
substantial accounts of recent books. The critical evaluation of
these works pertains both to their disciplinary relevance and to
their importance for the development of neighbouring

New on SRB is the Cyber Semiotic Institute, "an advanced studies
program in semiotics which will cover a wide range of topics. A
multidisciplinary international Faculty will offer courses
organized in cycles of eight months at the rate of one cyber
lecture per month. After the end of the cycles, the lectures
and reading lists will remain accessible at the virtual campus
library. Direct interactions between students and instructors
will take place through e-mail. "Twenty new courses will be pu
on line during the first two years of the Cyber Semiotic
Institute (including courses in other languages than English)
and all will be readily accessible in the Institute's archives
after they have been taught on line. Descriptions of the courses
and reading lists will be posted in advance on the virtual
campus of the Cyber Semiotic Institute which is embedded in the
web site of The Semiotic Review of Books."

For more electronic addresses for Semiotics:

Peirce Edition Project:

Peirce-L Forum: (Joe Randsell, List moderator)

Peirce slow reading list: The purpose of this list is to read,
examine, and discuss the writings of C.P. with as much textual
probing as possible. This list is a supplement to Pierce-L. :
to subscribe, write to with "subscribe
peirce" in the body (no name). (Bill Spinks, List moderator:

International Research Group on Semiotics of reasoning (emph. on

Semios-L (Steve Skaggs, List moderator): to subscribe, send a
message to with "subscribe
semios-l <your firstname lastname> in the body, no subjec

Sixth Congress of IASS:

International Journal for Semiotics of Law (and Bulletin):

Bulletin of the IASS:

The American Journal of Semiotics (TAJS), Editor, Richard
(Mail Address: Speech Communication Dept. (6605) Southern
Illinois University Carbondale, Il 62901-6605 U.S.A).

Semiotic Society of America: Terry Prewitt, Executive Director:


SEMCOM (an email list of Commission on Semiotics and
Communication, SCA): (list moderator, Alan Harris)

Commission on Semiotics and Communication, SCA: Frank Macke,

Bulletin of Commission on Semiotics, Speech Communication
Association: Elliot Gaines, editor:

Semiotic Circle of California: Irmengard Rauch, Ch.
Irmengard Rauch

WWW semiotics course
I'm teaching a course sponsored by the Cyber Semiotic
Institute on
the World Wide Web called "Critical Semiotics" that readers of
the SEMIOS-L might find of interest. It is embedded in the web
site of the _Semiotic Review of Books_ located a
I'd appreciate it if you would bring it to the attention
those who also might be interested and I encourage you to send
more your feedback about it at:
Thanks! Scott Simpkins


Course Outline 1) The lingua franca of semioticians.

Readings: Selections from _Frontiers in Semiotics_, ed.s John
Deely, Brooke Williams, and Felicia Kruse (Bloomington: Indiana
University Press, 1986); Umberto Eco, _A Theory of Semiotics_
(Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1979); John Deely,
_Basics of Semiotics_ (Bloomington: Indiana University Press,

2) Two extensive critiques of semiotics. Readings: John
Stewart, _Language as Articulate Contact: Toward A Post-Semiotic
Philosophy of Communication_ (Albany: State University Press of
New York, 1995); Robert Hodge and Gunther Kress, _Social
Semiotics_ (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1988).

3) The implications of codes. Readings: Roland Barthes, _S/Z:
An Essay_, Trans. Richard Miller (New York: Hill and Wang,

4) The "problem" of controlling the decoder. Readings: Umberto
Eco, _The Role of the Reader: Explorations in the Semiotics of
Texts_ (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1979).

5) The limits of "system" and the authority of the encoder.
Readings: Umberto Eco, _The Limits of Interpretation_
(Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1990); Michel Foucault,
"What is an Author?"; Roland Barthes, "Textual Analysis: Poe's
'Valdemar'" and "From Work to Text."

6) Finite infinite semiosis Readings: Scott Simpkins, "Reeling
in the Signs: Unlimited Semiosis and the Agenda of Literary
Semiotics," _Versus: Quaderni di studi semiotici_ 55/56, 2
(Gennaio-Agosto 1990), 153-173; Eco, _The Open Work_,
trans. Anna Cancogni (Cambridge: Harvard University Press,

7) Semiotics based on radical polysemy, structuration, and play.
Readings: Roland Barthes, "The Death of the Author";
Jean-Francois Lyotard, _Libidinal Economy_, trans. Iain Hamilton
Grant (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1993); Jacques
Derrida, "'I have forgotten my umbrella.'"

8) Semiotic analysis of James Thurber's short story, "The
Catbird Seat," that draws upon and illustrates the points
discussed in the first seven lectures. Reading: "The Catbird

Semiotic terminology:
collection of semiotic terms (
authored by C. Joslyn (
Sign :
A deterministic, functional regularity or stability in a
system, also sometimes called a sign-function. Something,
the signifier, stands for something else, the signified, in
virtue of the sign-function. May be either lawful, proper,
or symbolic depending on the presence or absence of
motivation. This is, of course, a very general definition,
but it is in the tradition of both semiotics and general
systems theory to think very generally. Contains:
signifier, signified. Cases: lawful, proper, symbolic.
Synonym: sign function.

Sign Function :
Synonym: sign.

Signifier :
That part of a sign which stands for the signified, for
example a word or a DNA codon. Synonym: token, sign vehicle.
Part-of: sign.

Sign Vehicle :
Synonym: token, signifier.

Signified :
That part of a sign which is stood for by the signifier.
Sometimes thought of as the meaning of the signifier.
Synonym: object, referent, interpretant. Part-of: sign.

Object :
Synonym: signified, referent, interpretant.

Referent :
Synonym: signified, object, interpretant.

Motivation :
The presence of some degree of necessity between the
signified and siginifier of a sign. Makes the sign proper,
and complete motivation makes the sign lawful. For example,
a painting may resemble its subject, making it a proper
sign. Antonym: arbitrariness.

Arbitrariness :
The absence of any degree of necessity between the signified
and siginifier of a sign. Makes the sign symbolic. For
example, in English we say ``bachelor'' to refer to an
unmarried man, but since we might just as well say
``foobar'', therefore ``bachelor'' is a symbol. Antonym:

Proper Sign :
A sign which has an intermediate degree of motivation. For
example, a photograph is a proper sign. isa: sign. Cases:
icon, index.

Icon :
A proper sign where the motivation is due to some kind of
physical resemblance or similarity between the signified and
siginifier. For example, a map is an icon of its territory.
isa: proper sign.

Index :
A proper sign where the motivation is due to some kind of
physical connection or causal relation between the signified
and siginifier. For example, smoke is an index of fire. isa:
proper sign.

Symbol :
For CS Peirce, a sign where the sign function is a
conventional rule or coding. The operation of a symbol is
dependent on a process of interpretation. isa: sign.

Rule :
A functional regularity or stability which is conventional,
and thus necessary within the system which manifests it, bu
within a wider universe it is contingent, or arbitrary. For
example, if we wish to refer to an unmarried man in English,
then we must say ``bachelor'', even though ``bachelor'' is a
symbol. Synonym: code, semantic relation. Antonym: law.

Semantic Relation :
Synonym: code, rule.

Code :
The establishment of a conventional rule-following relation
in a symbol, represented as a deterministic, functional
relation between two sets of entities. Synonym: semantic
relation, rule.

Interpret :
To take something for something else in virtue of a coding.

Interpreter :
That entity, typically a human subject, which interprets the
sign vehicle of a symbol.

Interpretant :
For Peirce, that which followed semantically from the
process of interpretation. Synonym: signified, object,

Law :
A regularity or stability which is necessary for all
systems, and thus immutable as a fact of nature. The
necessity of the relation is called the sign's motivation.
Antonym: rule.
Esa Pikkarainen (WPegasus)
University of Oulu or

Alan C. Harris, Ph. D. TELNOS: main off: 818-677-2853
Professor, Communication/Linguistics direct off: 818-677-2874
Speech Communication Departmen
California State University, Northridge home: 818-366-3165
SPCH CSUN FAX: 818-677-2663
Northridge, CA 91330-8257 INTERNET email: ALAN.HARRIS@CSUN.EDU
WWW homepage:

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