The Semiotic Society of America
39th Annual Meeting

October 2–5, 2014 | Seattle, Washington

Preliminary Program

2014 SSA Conference Logo

Submission Deadline: June 20, 2014  (Closed) 

Paradoxes of Life
Challenge – Determination – Resilience

Ever since the paradoxes of Zeno (on the impossibility of motion) and Heraclitus (on the possibility of ever-present change)—through the work of Baudrillard, Eco, Escher, Hegel, Husserl, Merleau-Ponty, Peirce, Picasso, Russell, Whitehead, and others—philosophers, scholars, and artists have been exploring the phenomenological nature of paradoxes. Contemporary societies seem to be especially challenged by paradoxes in all aspects of life. And yet, antinomies in life are not fortuitous, nor do they result from incompetence. They are inherent in the human condition and innate forces in cultural and natural systems.

The irony is that when societies face crises, there is a tendency to confuse paradoxical situations with problems. This habitual tendency seems to be generated by intolerance for those ambiguities and uncertainties that are unavoidable features of paradoxes. But whenever paradoxes are perceived as problems, they can never be solved or dissolved. Rather, sooner or later, apparent solutions are discovered to be illusions, leading to ever-more-tangled problems. Thus, it is important to be aware of the difference between what we perceive as problems and what we experience as paradoxes.

Paradoxes present contradictions between irresolvably opposing aspects of life. But life feeds on these contradictory relations, and the evolution of life itself is paradoxical. Because we are born into a world of paradoxes, we are compelled to learn how to survive, to persevere, and to thrive in a reality that is constantly in a state of disequilibrium. Although we are challenged by the tension among various opposing forces, the resulting paradoxes can offer unique opportunities for engaging in crucial meaning-making processes. However, the manner in which we deal with the paradoxes of life is contingent upon our personal capacity for meeting challenges with determination and resilience. Indeed, how we deal with paradoxes can give us insight into the nature of complex semiotic processes. We invite you to consider this theme when planning your contribution to the annual meeting. A list of possible topics (in no way exhaustive) follows:

• The Structure of Paradox
• The Paradox of Teleology and Absurdism
• The Paradox of Continuity and Discontinuity
• The Paradox of Stability and Change
• The Paradox of Determinism and Free Will
• The Paradox of the Absolute and the Contingent
• The Life and Death Paradox
• The Paradox of the Whole and the Part
• Paradoxes of Self and Others
• Paradoxes of War and Peace
• The Semiotic Paradox of the Lie and the Truth
• Transmodernity and Paradoxes
• The Paradox of Language
• The Paradox of Troping
• The Paradox of Beauty and the Grotesque
• Religious Paradoxes
• Gender Paradoxes
• Paradoxes of Love
• Paradoxes of Communication
• Paradoxes of Space and Time
• The Paradox of the Real and the Imaginary
• The Paradox of Comedy and Tragedy
• Paradoxes of the Digital Age
• Finite and Infinite Paradoxes

Paradoxes of Life is a non-restrictive theme of this year’s annual meeting. Any topic related to semiotics can be submitted as a paper, a panel, or a poster.

Submission of Abstracts and Proposals

Please visit EasyChair to submit your abstract or proposal for poster presentation. (If you have any problems accessing their website, please contact us). The extended deadline for submission is June 20, 2014. Please include the following information in your submission:

1. Author’s Name(s)
2. Institutional Affiliation and Academic Status
3. Email Address
4. Title of the Abstract
5. 150- to 200-Word Abstract (in Times New Roman 12)
6. Keywords (maximum 6 words)

Abstracts for individual papers or panels and organized sessions (3-4 papers) as well as poster presentations 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 from the date of receiving your submission. Electronic letters of acceptance will be sent to the selected participants by June 30, 2014.

Papers presented at the meeting will also be considered for publication in Semiotics 2014, 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 papers on their current 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 2014 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 Prof. Farouk Y. Seif at by September 2, 2014.

Special Events

Pike PlacePre-Conference Marketplace of Semiotics: 
This year’s pre-conference activities will utilize the self-organizing Open Space format to energize and engage participants in stimulating workshops or seminars around topics proposed and collaboratively developed by the participants themselves. These sessions will be of interest to both students and scholars new to semiotics and to experienced scholars.

The Marketplace of Semiotics will begin with a plenary session led by an exceptional speaker and Open Space expert, Mark Hower (Antioch University Seattle). During this session, participants will be invited to explore the conference theme and propose topics for the workshops or seminars that immediately follow. Participants will have the opportunity to join a session on a topic of their own choosing.

Open Space TechnologyThe conversations, activities, relationships and insights that emerge from these Open Space sessions are meant to contribute to your professional development and expand your network and sense of a larger community of practice. In short, the Open Space process will be a powerful opportunity to examine and make meaning around what is important to you and, in doing so, deepen our shared community and impact.

Lunch and conference opening ceremonies will immediately follow.

If you’re curious to see what an Open Space workshop can look like, watch this:


Poster Presentations: 
This year’s conference will also feature poster presentations, which will be peer reviewed. Poster sizes should not exceed 3×3 feet in dimension and be done on matte finish or coated paper. Posters are intended to highlight best practices and research projects. Submission of poster proposals should include 150–200 words of brief description and a PDF of the actual poster. Presenters should make sure their final printed posters are received by the SSA Registration Desk at the Westin Seattle Hotel no later than 12:00 noon on October 1, 2014. All posters will be on display in a gallery throughout the duration of the annual meeting.


Conference Venue

Seattle SkylineSeattle, also known as the “Emerald City,” is the host city for the 39th SSA Annual Meeting. It is one of the most beautiful and fast-growing cities of North America. Seattle was named after the prominent Native American figure Chief “Seathle,” who creatively dealt with the paradox of accommodating white settlers with Native Americans through a robust call for ecological responsibility. The Seattle metropolitan area is the home of leading companies such as Boeing, Microsoft, Amazon, and Starbucks.

The Annual Meeting will take place at The Westin Seattle Hotel in the heart of downtown. The Westin Hotel has exceptional amenities and is within walking distance of Seattle’s famous Space Needle, the Seattle Art Museum, the Seattle Symphony (Benaroya Hall), the Chihuly Garden and Glass museum, Pike Place Market, and the beautiful waterfront.

To make your room reservations, please visit Westin Seattle Hotel Reservations or call +01-888-627-8513.

Westin_Seattle_Lobby2We encourage you to make your reservation by August 22, 2014. After this date, it will be at the Westin’s discretion whether to accept reservations, which will be subject to prevailing rates and availability. The single or double room SSA special rate is $195.00 per night, including complimentary guest-room wireless Internet access and other amenities. To speak with hotel staff, call +1-206-728-1000.

Registration and Fees

Please note that, according to the SSA Constitution, “Only Individual, Student, and Honorary members in good standing may offer papers to the Program Committee for oral presentation at meetings of the Society” (Article 4, Section 4). Membership must be in good standing at or before the time of abstract submission.

To activate or renew your membership, please visit this page. Alternatively, you can pay membership dues together with your conference registration.

Registration Fees:
• SSA Membership Dues (Regular)
: $50
• SSA Membership Dues (Student):  $30
• Conference Registration Fee (Regular):  $150 (late registration $175 after August 17, 2014)
• Conference Registration Fee (Student):  $70 (late registration $85 after August 17, 2014)
• Pre-Conference Seminar/Workshop Fee:  $30 (access to any seminars/workshops)

Meals Fee:  $100 ($125 after August 17, 2014; $150 on site) and includes the following:
• Breakfast (3 days)
• Lunch (3 days)
• All-day Beverage Service (3 days)
• Plated Dinner (1 night)
• Welcome Reception with hors d’oeuvres and wine/beer/sodas

How to Register:
Please visit our registration page or call: +01-434-220-3300 or the toll free number 1-800-444-2419 (U.S. & Canada).

Planning Your Stay

Transportation Options from Seattle Airport to The Westin Seattle Hotel

  • Sound Transit Light Rail
    • From Baggage Claim (Lower Level), take the escalator up to Skybridge No. 6 to the Sound Transit Light Rail Station (approximately 10 minutes). Take the Train to the Westlake Station – Bay A to the Westin Seattle Hotel (travel time approximately 40 minutes).
    • The cost of the ticket is $2.75 one way. You can buy the ticket at the vending machine at the station. Be sure to purchase your ticket before boarding the Light Rail to avoid the $124 fine. For more information, visit or call +1-888-889-6368.
  • Shuttle Express
    • Take Skybridge No. 4 from the Terminal Building to Level 4 and use the elevator or escalator to Level 3. Shuttle Express is located on Level 3. Shuttle Express will take you to the Westin Seattle Hotel (travel time approximately 30 minutes).
    • The cost is $18 one way. You can make reservations through – or call +1-425-881-7000.
  • Other Options
    • A listing of additional transportation options between the airport and the Westin Seattle Hotel can be found here.
    • For driving directions from the airport to the Westin Seattle Hotel, visit the hotel’s driving directions page
    • To find out about local public transit to visit Seattle’s attractions, you can use the trip planner and other information available on the Seattle Metro transit page.

Local Attractions

Seattle: 2014 Annual Meeting

In addition to the Space Needle, the Seattle Art Museum, the Seattle Symphony (Benaroya Hall), the Chihuly Garden and Glass museum, Pike Place Market, and the waterfront, you will find many attractions within walking distance of the Westin Seattle Hotel.

Here is an easy-to-use map and listing.

The 2014 Program Committee is looking forward to welcoming you in Seattle!

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