Practice: Semiotics - Currently no debate


Semiotics or semiology,  the systematic study of signs,  or, more precisely, of the production of meanings from sign?systems,  linguistic or non?linguistic. As a distinct tradition of inquiry into human communications, semiotics was founded by the American philosopher C. S. Peirce (1839–1914) and separately by the Swiss linguist Ferdinand de Saussure (1857–1913), who proposed that linguistics would form one part of a more general science of signs: ‘semiology’. Peirce’s term ‘semiotics’ is usually preferred in English, although Saussure’s principles and concepts—especially the distinctions between signifier and signified and between langue and parole—have been more influential as the basis of structuralism and its approach to literature. Semiotics is concerned not with the relations between signs and things but with the interrelationships between signs themselves, within their structured systems or codes of signification.  The semiotic approach to literary works stresses the production of literary meanings from shared conventions and codes; but the scope of semiotics goes beyond spoken or written language to other kinds of communicative systems such as cinema,  advertising, clothing, gesture, and cuisine.

ref.: Literary Dictionary - accessed at

Related Practice(s):
Material Culture

Related Terms:

Intertextuality is the shaping of texts’ meanings by other texts.  It can refer to an author’s borrowing and transformation of a prior text or to a reader’s referencing of one text in reading another.

In popular culture, intertextuality refers to the incorporation of meanings of one text within another in a reflexive fashion.  For example, the television show The Simpsons includes references to films, other television shows, and celebrities.  These intertextual references assume that the viewer know the people and cultural products being referenced.  Sturken M., & Cartwright, L. (2001). In Practices of Looking: an introduction to visual culture. New York: Oxford University Press.