Podcast: Semiotics – Lingering or Thriving?

Palmse Manor Ensemble
During the last week of August, three generations of scholars gathered at the beautiful Palmse Manor ensemble in northern Estonia to converse about the core issues of semiotics, the study of signs and sign systems.

The five-day event, Tartu Summer School of Semiotics, was planned as a revival of the legendary Summer Schools of Semiotics in Kääriku, a tradition initiated by Juri Lotman in 1964.

One of the important discussions in Palmse focused on the current state and future of semiotics as a discipline. All of the scholars seemed to agree that semiotics has become very diverse and lacks unified terminology: Basic semiotic terms are defined in a number of different ways by various authors.

While some researchers viewed this extreme variety as possibly leading to the death of the field, others interpreted it as a sign of the richness and value of semiotics.

Listen to what Boris Uspenski, a member of the  Tartu-Moscow Semiotic School, Eero Tarasti, President of the International Association for Semiotic Studies, Winfried Nöth, Professor of Linguistics and Semiotics at the University of Kassel, and Marcel Danesi, Editor-in-Chief of Semiotica, a major academic journal covering semiotics, think about the past, present and future of semiotics.

Tartu Semiotics Summer School 2011
I wish I had talked to many more semioticians and found out their views on the “lingering-thriving” issue. A secret voting to establish the dominant view would have been insightful, too.  The second and last edition of this podcast will feature individual interviews with the above-mentioned semioticians, recorded in Palmse. I’d like to thank all interviewees, as well as Katre Pärn, Kaie Kotov and Paul Külmoja for their help in making this podcast happen.

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