LINGUIST List 9.1746

Wed Dec 9 1998

Books: Semiotics

Editor for this issue: Scott Fults <>

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  1. AnneGodfre, The Written Poem: Semiotic Conventions From Old to Modern English

Message 1: The Written Poem: Semiotic Conventions From Old to Modern English

Date: Mon, 26 Oct 1998 10:47:29 EST
From: AnneGodfre <>
Subject: The Written Poem: Semiotic Conventions From Old to Modern English

Huisman, Rosemary (University of Sydney); The Written Poem: Semiotic
Conventions From Old to Modern English;Available from Cassell;Hb.: 0 304 33999
7; US$75.00/ 45.00

This book defines a focus of interest: contemporary poetry and its historical
construction as a 'seen object', and uses current literary and social theory
to facilitate its study. Thus the book contains matter of relevance to
practising poets, to those engaged in literary studies and to those with a
sociolinguistic interest in the English language, especially in relation to
technical and social changes in language technology and literacy. 
 Part One discusses the use of graphic, that is visual, conventions in
contemporary poetry in English. How do we recognize 'a poem' (including
apparent contraventions, such as the 'prose-poem')? Once a poem has been
recognized, what are the interpretative conventions brought into play for
reading it? And especially, how has the spatial arrangement on the page
become 'meaningful' in its own right for much contemporary poetry? The last
question, of the semiosis of the 'seen poem', is discussed at length, with
numerous examples from individual poems. For a consistent descriptive
vocabulary for 'discourse' and 'genre', a model of language and social
context, derived from the work of the linguist M.A.K. Halliday and the
sociologist Basil Bernstein, where relevant, is explained and used.
 Part Two explores questions which have been brought to the fore in Part
One. What is the origin of the line as the primary generic sign of poetry?
How does the potential for seen, rather than spoken, meaning emerge? It
particularly focuses on changes in manuscript conventions from Old to Middle
English poetry, on the comparitvely late significance of print for poetic
discourse, on the change, in an increasingly literate understanding of
'literature', from a social to a personal understanding of poetic meaning
from the late eighteenth century through the nineteenth century. If what has
been regarded as an object, 'the poem', is an outcome of the social processes
of textual interpretation and production, so too is what has been regarded as
'the subject', that through which meaning is authorized. 
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1998 Contributors

  • Addison Wesley Longman
  • Blackwell Publishers
  • Cambridge University Press
  • CSLI Publications
  • Edinburgh University Press
  • Garland Publishing
  • Holland Academic Graphics (HAG)
  • John Benjamins Publishing Company
  • Lawrence Erlbaum Assoc.
  • MIT Press--Books Division
  • MIT Working Papers in Linguistics
  • Mouton de Gruyter
  • Oxford University Press
  • Francais Pratique
  • Hermes
  • Pacific Linguistics
  • Routledge
  • Summer Institute of Linguistics