Keynote Speaker Anthony Julian Tamburri: “Signing Italian/American Cinema, Book Making in the City: What Does Scorsese Mean in Mean Streets?”

We are honored to announce that Dr. Anthony Julian Tamburri is the keynote speaker at the SSA 41st Annual Meeting in Delray Beach, Florida.

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Anthony Julian Tamburri is Distinguished Professor of European Languages and Literatures and Dean of the John D. Calandra Italian American Institute (Queens College, CUNY). He is co-director of Bordighera Press, past president of the Italian American Studies Association and of the American Association of Teachers of Italian. His authored books include: Italian/American Short Films & Videos: A Semiotic Reading (2002); Semiotics of Re-reading: Guido Gozzano, Aldo Palazzeschi, and Italo Calvino (2003); Una semiotica dell’etnicità (2010); Re-viewing Italian Americana: Generalities and Specificities on Cinema (2011); and Re-reading Italian Americana: Specificities and Generalities on Literature and Criticism (2014). He is executive producer and host of Calandra Institute’s TV program, Italics, produced in collaboration with CUNY TV.

SSA 2016 Presidential Address

Presidential Address.001-001 “I will not see the results of my work in my lifetime”, says John Deely. Let’s look at what he has done, why it has not been accepted and what the future may bring in terms of further insights. If the cenoscopic and ideoscopic developments of the last four centuries teach us that science has to take into consideration the reality around us; and the developing use of semiotics in that mix opens the post-modern development, as Deely insists (and most of us agree), why is the doctrine of semeiosis not more widely used or understood? Add another parameter to the map, in that stochastic (random) activity that perturbs the “balance” between what is known through signs or through instruments or the interplay between them, the resultant understanding is never fully predictive. Will Deely’s strengths and weaknesses aid our quest for truth?

 

Bio: (Edward J.) Ted Baenziger, C.S.B.

Entered the Basilian Fathers (C.S.B.) from Catholic Central High School, Detroit, in ‘64; ordained in ‘76. Teacher, Head Start to University level, (middle and high school, in Annonay, France, for 5 years). Masters from Middlebury College (‘88), PhD in French Literature and Civilization from the Sorbonne (Paris III) (’96). Secretary of the Faculty Senate, ’09-‘16; French-speaking parish pastor, Houston (St-Basile, at UST) 33 years; Semiotic Society of America, since 2001, president for 2015-16, and orchid societies and the American Orchid Society, where he is a certified judge. He loves gardening, reading, scientific research, and coffee. Professor emeritus, June, 2016. ejb@stthom.edu.

Obituary: Umberto Eco (1932-2016)

By Marcel Danesi

On February 19, 2016, one of the greatest contemporary semioticians, writers and intellectuals passed away, leaving behind both an enormous legacy and a void that will be hard to fill. One cannot mention semiotics without mentioning his name in the same breath. With the late Thomas A. Sebeok, with whom he collaborated closely, Umberto Eco shaped the goals and development of semiotic theory and practice since at least the mid-1970s.

Umberto was born in Alessandria in the region of Piedmont, Italy in 1932. He graduated in 1954 in medieval philosophy and literature at the University of Turin. His first book, The Aesthetics of Thomas Aquinas (1956), was a brilliant overview of the importance of scholasticism to modern philosophy and semiotics. He taught at his alma mater, while working in Milan at Italy’s state broadcaster, RAI, as a cultural commentator. Shortly after, he became part of a group of avant-garde intellectuals and writers, developing a penchant for Joyce, the music of Stockhausen, and the poetry of Mallarmé. He also worked as an editor for the publishing house, Bompiani. Before his death he founded a new Italian publishing house, La Nave di Teseo. His many writings on semiotics, such as The Open Work (1962), The Absent Structure (1968), the Theory of Semiotics (1975), Lector in fabula (1979), The Role of the Reader (1979), The Limits of Interpretation (1990), Interpretation and Overinterpretation (1990), Six Walks in the Fictional Woods (1994), and Kant and the Platypus (1997) have become central reference works for the whole field, shaping it and providing a framework for its current methods. Eco was also one of the founding members of Semiotica, which included Sebeok (the journal’s first editor), Roland Barthes, Juri M. Lotman, Nicolas Ruwet, Meyer Shapiro, and Hansjakob Seiler.

Eco’s first novel, The Name of the Rose, published in 1980, became an international bestseller. He always claimed that it was his foray into semiotic fiction. Indeed, I myself used it as a textbook in a first-year course introducing semiotics at the University of Toronto over 30 years ago. It was enjoyable for both myself and the students, and it worked! It made semiotics understandable to a new generation through the lens of detective fiction. Since that novel, it has been impossible to separate Eco the scholar from Eco the writer. Indeed, it is this blurring of the line that defined him as an intellectual and coloring the field of semiotics itself. It is no exaggeration to claim that writers and artists became interested in semiotics after the novel was published. In fact, many of the meetings in the SSA in the mid-1980s attracted leading writers and artists. The “echo effect” (pun intended) had taken place.

I met Umberto in the late 1970s at one of the seminars of the International Summer Institute of Semiotic and Structural Studies held at Victoria College of the University of Toronto. As a linguist, at the time I was skeptical of semiotics as a discipline. He changed my mind, not only with his brilliant arguments, but also with his humility and kindness. I realized that intellect without humility is likely to be useless. We remained friends right to the end. I would invite him to Toronto often, and early on, he would come gladly, not to be heard as a scholar, but to meet my students, whom he loved. He understood that semiotics could only gain ground only if young people understood its power to penetrate everyday life. He also taught me that meaning cannot be studied with the kind of objectivity claimed by rational logicians and linguists. He also taught me the importance of the ideas of Charles Peirce, reinforced later by my good and late colleague, David Savan, who taught in Toronto. He also showed me that semiotics was indeed a scientific discipline, since it had standardized methodological tools that allow us to seek answers to specific kinds of questions and then to generate hypotheses and theories about meaning phenomena, from written texts to visual artifacts such as paintings and ads. This connectivity of domains of investigation, relegated to disciplinary territories traditionally, is what makes semiotics the science of all sciences.

There is little doubt to my mind that Sebeok and Eco were instrumental in bringing the Peircean purview of the sign into the mainstream of semiotics, without, however, marginalizing the Saussurean approach and all the insights that it too brings to the semiotic table. Sign systems are built on perception and thus abduction. Eco thus brought the relativistic perspective of Wilhelm von Humboldt, Franz Boas, and Edward Sapir in linguistics to semiotics. It is still today the dominant perspective.

I have always found his distinction between open and closed texts as extremely useful. A closed text is one that implies a fairly limited range of interpretations. Recipes are about food, closing all other paths of interpretation, even though the ways in which they are organized and the kind of foods treated still open up avenues of culture and history that cannot be eliminated. A closed text is, thus, also open on many counts. A primarily open work, on the other hand, impels us to make up our own minds as to what it means. It requires a particular kind of reader, as he argued about Joyce’s Finnegans Wake. A closed text sets “limitations” on the reader’s potential range of interpretations—a map is a map, unless it is part of a treasure hunt with its own range of meanings. An open work implies freedom of interpretive choice. He often used the example of composers like Luciano Berio and Karlheinz Stockhausen, who gave musicians free rein to play (or sing them) their compositions as they wished. He claimed that this was also characteristic of Baroque music and of jazz. Openness is, for Eco, a semiotic condition that leads to a free imaginative play of interpretations which, in turn, leads to a powerful form of aesthetics.

Umberto Eco’s legacy has been enormous. He will be missed, not only as a scholar and brilliant writer, but also as a humane person, who cared for people. He even established a scholarship at the University of Toronto with Marshall McLuhan (called the McLuhan-Eco scholarship), which for a decade allowed his precious students to come to Toronto to study semiotics. He cared. Arrivederci Umberto, non ti dimenticheremo mai!

“The Semiotics of Murder”

Workshop Organized by Marcel Danesi and Mike Arntfield

SSA 41st Annual Meeting, Delray Beach, Florida, September 29, 2016

This workshop will examine the work going on in forensic semiotics on the relation between murder as a criminal act and culture as the framework in which murder is defined. The workshop is intended to bring together a collage of ideas, with a semiotic basis, including actual police work on the relation between murder and culture, the phenomenon of the serial killer as a modern-day one, the relation between actual murder and television and movies about murder, such as Natural Born Killers. Especially critical in this whole area is the role of murder in the origin and rise of detective fiction and how this dovetails with the actual rise of forensic science and the synergy that has remained between the two ever since. In addition to papers by the two organizers, proposals are welcome from all SSA members and from anyone who is working in this interdisciplinary field.

Keynote Speaker Richard Shusterman: “Philosophy as a Way of Life – On Camera”

We are honored to announce that Dr. Richard Shusterman is the keynote speaker at the SSA 41st Annual Meeting in Delray Beach, Florida.

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Richard Shusterman

Richard Shusterman is the Dorothy F. Schmidt Eminent Scholar in the Humanities and Director of the Center for Body, Mind, and Culture at Florida Atlantic University. His major authored books include Thinking through the Body; Body Consciousness; Surface and Depth; Performing Live; Practicing Philosophy; and Pragmatist Aesthetics (now published in fifteen languages). Shusterman received his doctorate in philosophy from Oxford and has held academic appointments in France, Germany, Israel, and Japan. The French government honored him as a Chevalier de l’Ordre des Palmes Académiques, and he was awarded research grants from the NEH, Fulbright Commission, ACLS, Humboldt Foundation, and UNESCO.

CFP: Semiotic Society of America 41st Annual Meeting

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Call For Papers

Semiotic Society of America 41st Annual Meeting

September 28–October 2, 2016 / Delray Beach, Florida

The Semiotic Society of America welcomes abstracts on any subject with a connection to semiotics. We apply semiotic theories and insights to disciplines as diverse as anthropology, the arts, biology, cognitive science, communication, cybernetics, education, ethics, law, literature, linguistics, marketing, media studies, mathematics, pedagogy, philosophy, religion, and technology.

Please visit EasyChair at: https://easychair.org/conferences/?conf=ssa2016

The extended deadline for submission is June 19, 2016.

Only one submission per author is permitted. There is no limit on the number of times a person may chair or respond to a session. If you encounter problems accessing the website, please contact us. Please include the following information in your submission:

  1. Author’s name (as it will be listed in the program)
  2. Author’s email & institutional affiliation
  3. Additional authors (if applicable)
  4. If you would like to propose an organized session, the individual abstracts for each paper must be submitted
  5. Title of abstract (maximum 15 words)
  6. 150-word abstract (as it will be printed in the program)
  7. Keywords (maximum 6 words)

Abstracts for individual papers or panels and organized sessions (3-4 papers) must include all of the above information. Papers are for a 20-minute presentation. Early submission of abstracts and proposals is highly recommended. An acknowledgement of receipt of your abstract will be sent to you within two weeks. Electronic letters of acceptance will be sent to the selected participants by June 30, 2016.

Papers presented at the meeting will also be considered for publication in Semiotics 2016, the Yearbook of the Semiotic Society of America. The SSA Yearbook is an annual peer-reviewed publication series sponsored by the Semiotic Society of America, providing both a timely overview of current developments in semiotic research and a regular outlet for members of the Society to publish their work. Further details and deadlines will be specified in the Annual Meeting Program.

Student submissions are eligible for the Roberta Kevelson Award, which will honor the best student paper presented at the 2016 Annual Meeting. Students who wish to be considered for the Kevelson Award should indicate their interest in their abstract submissions, and submit their full papers to Gilad Elbom (gilad.elbom@gmail.com) by September 1, 2016.

To join the Society and register for the conference, please visit https://www.pdcnet.org/wp/2016-ssa/ or call: +01-434-220-3300, Toll Free: 1-800-444-2419 (US & Canada).

Venue

The 41st SSA Annual Meeting will take place at the Delray Beach Marriott Hotel, 10 North Ocean Boulevard, Delray Beach, Florida 33483. To make your room reservations, please go to the customized Group Web Link: Book your group rate for Semiotic Society of America or call the Reservations Department 1-561-274-3200. We encourage you to make your reservation by August 28, 2016. After this date, it will be at the Delray Beach Marriott’s discretion whether to accept reservations, which will be subject to prevailing rates and availability. Please follow the link to Semiotic Society of America when making your registration to receive the special rate of $160.00 per night (single or double room), including complimentary guest-room wireless Internet access. To find a roommate, leave a note or respond to one here: http://padlet.com/augustyn/nnd0ohr61zgm

Membership and Registration Fees

Please note that in accordance with Article 4, Section 4 of the SSA Constitution, only Individual, Student, and Honorary members in good standing may offer papers to the Program Committee for presentation at the meeting of the Society. Membership must be in good standing at or before the time of abstract submission.

Membership Fees:

  • SSA Membership Dues (Regular) $50.00
  • SSA Membership Dues (Student) $30.00

Conference Registration Fees:

  • Conference Registration (Regular) $175.00 (late registration $200.00 after August 21, 2016)
  • Conference Registration (Student) $80.00 (late registration $90.00 after August 21, 2016)

Meals Fee

A meals fee of $130 will include the following:

  • Breakfast (3 days)
  • Lunch (3 days)
  • Beverage Service (3 days)
  • Dinner Banquet (1 night)
  • Welcome Reception with hors d’oeuvres and cash bar

We look forward to welcoming you in Delray Beach

2016 Program Committee

  • Debbie Smith-Shank (Chair), Ohio State University
  • Myrdene Anderson, Purdue University
  • Prisca Augustyn, Florida Atlantic University
  • Baranna Baker, University of St Thomas
  • Javier Clavere, Berea College
  • Mary Eberhardinger, Emerson College
  • Gilad Elbom, Oregon State University
  • Christopher Morrissey, Trinity Western University, BC
  • Steve Skaggs, University of Louisville
  • Donna E. West, State University of New York

SSA Executive Director
Farouk Y. Seif
Antioch University Seattle