SSA Yearbook: Call for Submissions


The SSA announces its call for submissions to the next volume of the Yearbook, Semiotics 2018: Signs of Resilience. The Yearbook seeks 3,000-to-6,000-word submissions from current SSA members–including 2018 SSA Conference participants–based on scholarly work completed during the past year. Contributions should be accessible to a broad interdisciplinary readership, but focused on some aspect of semiotics in any of its diverse manifestations. All submissions will be subject to blind peer review.

We request that potential contributors format their submissions using SSA stylesheet guidelines <>, and we recommend that contributors who speak a first language other than English review their manuscript with English-speaking colleagues or confidants prior to submission. Submissions should be in Microsoft Word, and sent via email attachment directly to the editors: Geoffrey Owens <> and E. K. Katić <>. The submission deadline is Friday, November 30.


Thank You

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

Many thanks to all of you for making the 43rdSSA Conference a very successful event. The quality of papers and presentations were very high and inspirational. Questions, answers, and comments were thoughtful, amicable, and graceful.

A special thank you to our local host and Executive Director Javier Clavere for his gracious hospitality and abundance of support. Those of us who have served in this capacity know well how much work goes into our annual conference. Certainly, Berea College and Boone Tavern Hotel were very charming venues for the various activities and events for our SSA this year.

I left Berea with gratitude to all friends and colleagues, optimism about the future of SSA, and excitement about our 44thSSA gathering next year. Stay tuned for the location announcement.

Warm regards,

Farouk Y. Seif, Ph.D.

Chair, 2018 SSA Program Committee

Professor Emeritus, Antioch University Seattle

President’s Message:

I am delighted to welcome you to the 43rd annual meeting of the Semiotic Society of America. This year we are hosted by Berea College in Berea, Kentucky. We are especially grateful to our Executive Director and local host, Javier Clavere, and his colleagues at Berea College for their hospitality. Our program committee, headed by Farouk Seif, has done a great job of planning this year in order to make this an insightful and beneficial experience for us all.

This year’s conference theme: “Signs of Resilience in a Complex World,” highlights the interdisciplinary nature of semiotics as we bring together researchers from across the academy to explore this timely and important topic.

We look forward to hearing talks from our two keynote speakers: Dr. Ivo Ibri, Professor of Philosophy from PUCSP, Brazil, and Dr. Wendy Wheeler, Professor Emeritus of English Literature and Cultural Inquiry, London Metropolitan University, UK. Dr. Ibri will discuss “The Semiotic Resilient Mind – Conflictual and Agapic Relationship between Logic and Emotional Interpretants” and Dr. Wheeler will address “Resilience in a Time of Semiocide: Against the Murder of Natural and Cultural Meanings.”

We also are fortunate to hear from our newly-inducted Sebeok Fellow, Dr. Vincent Colapietro. Dr. Colapietro is Liberal Arts Research Professor Emeritus at Pennsylvania State University and currently affiliated to the University of Rhode Island through the Center for the Humanities. He has served as President of the Metaphysical Society of America, the Semiotic Society of America (SSA), and the Charles S. Peirce Society. His talk is entitled, “The Music of Meaning: Gestures, Traces, and Media.”

There are two plenary sessions that should be of particular interest this year. Farouk Seif, Professor Emeritus, Antioch University, Seattle is presenting, “The Audacity of Design and the Resilience of Signs” on Thursday afternoon. Michael Shapiro, Professor Emeritus of Slavic and Semiotic Studies from Brown University will discuss, “Language as Semiosis: A Neo-Structuralist Perspective in the Light of Pragmaticism.”

Thank you for your participation in this meeting. We are a diverse community of scholars with common interests in the study of signs and sign systems. The SSA is a welcoming academic community committed to sharing ideas, providing feedback, and disseminating timely research. If you are new to this conference, please introduce yourself and know that we would like to see you make it your academic home.


My best,

Deborah Eicher-Catt, PhD

President, Semiotic Society of America

Professor, Communication Arts & Sciences

The Pennsylvania State University-York


Dear Friends

The transportation from Lexington to Berea is difficult to coordinate. In an effort to help our members, we are offering free shuttles from Lexington Airport to Berea, and from Berea to Lexington Airport. In order to group as many guests as possible, and to provide a service to several members we ask that you send the following information:

Do not leave a message, it doesn’t guarantee we will get the information. We will acknowledge receipt of your email.

Please provide the following (VERY IMPORTANT)

  • Your full name
  • Your email
  • Your cell number
  • Airline and flight number
  • Flight coming from:
  • Estimated time or arrival in Lexington

Please make sure to follow these directions so we can coordinate your transportation. You may be required to wait until a group is formed. We will try our best to minimize the wait, we are planning not to exceed 90-120 minutes wait. If you are unable to wait, you may want to consider Uber, Lyft, or car rentals. We are looking forward to seeing you in Berea. 


Javier Clavere 

SSA Executive Director

Book Exhibit at the 43rd SSA Conference


unnamed.jpgBerea Logo Simple

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

The countdown continues for the 43rd SSA Annual Conference in Berea!

The Program Committee would like to extend an invitation to you to bring sample copies of your published books for display at the Book Exhibit in Berea. If you have any questions about our book exhibit, please direct them to our local host Javier Clavere at:

I look forward to seeing you in Berea,

Farouk Y. Seif
Chair, Program Committee

Plenary Speakers, SSA 43rd Annual Conference

v2zVincent Colapietro

Sebeok Fellow Award Lecture: The Music of Meaning: Gestures, Traces, and Media


Just as theories of signs have been deployed to elucidate the nature of music, music might provide us with a source for illuminating the meaning of meaning. Indeed, theorists, such as Hanslick, Langer, Scruton, Lidov, and Hatten, have crafted their understanding of meaning with an ear to the phenomena of music. But we might make greater use of these phenomena. In use, signs, including words, mean the way music organizes temporal continuainto distinct, yet integrated, phases of an ongoing elaboration. I begin by focusing on gestures, but trace them to what Mead calls “the conversation of gestures.” In doing so, I stress the importance of both instrumentally mediated gestures and their directly perceptible traces. Moreover, I consider the sensuous media in which the traces of our gestures are embodied. By such considerations, I am led to the foreground of the temporality of meaning and the continual occasions for retroactive resignification.

Biographic Note

Vincent Colapietro is Liberal Arts Research Professor Emeritus at Penn State and Adjunct Professor of Humanities at the University of Rhode Island. One of his main areas of historical research is classical American pragmatism, with special emphasis on Peirce. While he has written on a wide range of topics (from music to cinema, from psychoanalysis to deconstruction, and from politics to metaethics), he is primarily a scholar of pragmatism and semiotics. He has served as president of the Charles S. Peirce Society, the Semiotic Society of America, and the Metaphysical Society of America. His writings have been translated into German, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Japanese, Bulgarian, and Russian.


headshot2a-copy1Deborah Eicher-Catt

Presidential Address: The Resilience of Enchantment in the Semiotic Resonance of Voice


I address concerns that nowadays we would rather “text than talk” to one another.  How does this cultural, semiotic trend impact the quality of our relations and our healthy sense of self? I suggest that even our partial retreat from the immediate sounding of being to the other through the medium of voice (and its reflexive enactment of listening) represents a threat to our well-being. The source of the resilience of the self isthe voice of the other. My reading of C.S. Peirce, Don Ihde, and Walter Ong leads me to argue that our embodied resilience lies in a renewed focus on the enchanting phenomenological ground of voice and the significance the sound of our immediate voices have for one another. My discussion seeks to remind us that it is within these often-fleeting moments of voicedinteractions that we become resilient—fully embodied semiotic beings of communicative action.

Biographic Note

Deborah Eicher-Catt is Professor of Communication Arts & Sciences at Pennsylvania State University-York. Using a Communicological lens, her research focuses on self and other relationships.  She is Fellow and Founding Member of the International Communicology Institute, past Chair of the Philosophy of Communication Division for the National Communication Association, and co-editor (with Isaac E. Catt) of Communicology: The New Science of Embodied Discourse (2010). She is the author of numerous publications, which appear in such journals as: Listening: Journal of Communication Ethics, Religion, and Culture; Language and Dialogue; The American Journal of Semiotics; Semiotica; The Review of Communication; and Language and Semiotic Studies.


DSC_0533enh2Farouk Y. Seif

The Audacity of Design and the Resilience of Signs


We seem to rely onabsoluteness falling into the temptation of certaintyin fear of abandoning obsolescence. Such fear has to do with panic at losing our sanity if we let go of the obsolete and the familiar. Design always deals with uncertainty and ambiguity, and signs require resilience that is far greater than merely copingwiththe rapidly changing world.Signs can never be understood in the absolute, and sign relations are formed teleologically. The audacity of design and the resilience of signs necessitate that we be comfortable navigating through space-time-free-reality, which liberates us from the nostalgic past, the gravity of the present, and the fear associated with the uncertainties of the future. Itis through the courage to design and the resilience of signs that we can traverse the boundary between reality and imagination, transforming things through cognitively playing with objects in the mind to actualize possibilities.

Biographic Note

Farouk Y. Seif is Professor Emeritus of Leadership and Change, Antioch University Seattle. He is the Vice-President of the SSA, a registered architect, an artist, and a Fellow of the International Communicology Institute. His main interests are Design and Semiotics for Social and Cultural Change, Paradoxes, and Transmodernity. He has taught design for social innovation and contributed to semiotic congresses since 1999. He has taught in universities and lectured at conferences in USA and abroad. He was the recipient of the 2010 Fulbright Specialists Program at University of Sofia, Bulgaria. He is the author of more than 50 articles and dozens of book chapters.


Michael Shapiro photo.jpgMichael Shapiro

Language as Semiosis: A Neo-Structuralist Perspective in the Light of Pragmaticism


Recalling the singular appearance of the word “hermeneutic” in the title of any article published over the multi-year history of the journal Language, and relying anew on Charles Sanders Peirce’s pragmaticism and his apothegm, “My language is the sum total of myself,” a program for reorienting linguistics in the twenty-first century is sketched, prompted by the conviction that the prevailing conception of language as rule-governed behavior tout court has driven linguistics into barren byways, which are powerless to Explain Speech as it is Manifested in Nature. This sterility can be overcome by postulating as a fundamental principle the idea that the locus of linguistic reality is the Act, the Creative Moment of Speech––a moment made possible by the existing structure of language with its general rules, but which transforms that structure, so that linguistic structure is itself always in flux, always being modified by acts of speech.

Biographic Note

Michael Shapiro earned degrees in Slavic Languages and Literatures at UCLA (B.A. ‘61) and Harvard (M.A. ‘62; Ph.D. ‘65). Besides Brown and Columbia, he has taught at UCLA, Princeton, UC Berkeley, and Green Mountain College, in a career that now spans over half a century. He is the co-author, with his late wife, the medievalist and Renaissance scholar Marianne Shapiro, of Figuration in Verbal Art (1988) and The Sense of Form in Literature and Language (2nded., 2009). A much-expanded second edition of his most recent book, The Speaking Self: Language Lore and English Usage, was published in 2017 by Springer.