SSA 40th Annual Meeting Seminars/Workshops

Great workshops/seminars at our 40th Annual Meeting, pre-conference activities, on Thursday October 1st, 2015, 9:00–11:50 am. Don’t miss this opportunity!

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Richard L. Lanigan, “Visualizing Semiotic Models for Applied Research”

The complexity of most semiotic models can be illustrated visually in what Peirce (4.418-419) called diagrams and graphs: “The aid that the system of graphs thus affords to the process of logical analysis, by virtue of its own analytic purity, is surprisingly great, and reaches further than one would dream”(4.619).The workshop will assist the beginner and expert alike by using my inventory of graphs to so show the compatible development of semiotic models in Peirce, Barthes, Hjelmslev, and Jakobson. Participants will be given a workbook containing all the relevant information and graphs. A basic reading for the workshop (showing graph work) is my book chapter “Metajournalism” in Phenomenology of Communication (Duquesne UP, 1988: 103-117). A copy will be included in the workshop handbook, but a PDF may be obtained earlier by e-mail request (

Richard L. Lanigan, Ph.D. is Distinguished University Scholar and Professor of Communicology (Emeritus) at Southern Illinois University, USA, and, Director and Fellow of the International Communicology Institute in Washington, DC, USA. His work is a focus on the Philosophy of Communicology (phenomenology, semiotics) and Intercultural Communicology, especially China—USA relations. Vita and publication PDF online:

Christopher S. Morrissey, “Semiotics and Philosophy”

By engaging participants in dialogue, this workshop will explore how philosophical logic is intertwined with the historical development of semiotics. What is logic? And how is it related to semiotics? Philosophical reflection on language has traditionally taken the form of studies of logic. Yet among philosophers it has remained controversial exactly what the status of logic is as a discipline. At any rate, it seems clear enough that the study of logic raises questions about the relationship between the triad of words, thoughts, and things. If there are grammatical laws that govern the use of words, are there likewise laws of thought that govern how minds think? If thoughts are mind-dependent, and if things are mind-independent, how is it that words can function as signs that roam freely between the mind-dependent and the mind-independent? What does semiotics say about how the laws of nature are related to the laws of mind?

Christopher S. Morrissey, Ph.D., is a Fellow of the Adler-Aquinas Institute. He lectures in logic and philosophy at Trinity Western University in Langley, British Columbia, Canada. He studied Ancient Greek and Latin at the University of British Columbia and has taught courses in these languages and in other classical subjects at Simon Fraser University. His book of Hesiod’s poetry, Hesiod: Theogony / Works and Days, has been published by Talonbooks. He is the managing editor of The American Journal of Semiotics.

Jamin R. Pelkey, “Linguistic Anthropology and Embodied Signs”

Opening with a state-of-the art overview of current semiotic trends in linguistic anthropology, this workshop places a special emphasis on the semiotics of bodily relations. Embodied signs are manifest across a wide spectrum of experience and cognition, from ordinary feelings of movement and sensation to the patterned relations of cultural and grammatical systems. Between these two extremes, where bodily feeling and conceptual behavior intertwine, we find such earthy phenomena as the pre-linguistic organization of bodily posture and the cultural-linguistic organization of body-part terminology. Paradigms and analogies that emerge from this interaction of Umwelt and Lebenswelt go on to shape the core of human understanding, both in terms of socio-cultural construction and scientific inquiry. Following an overview of the topic, including a brief introduction to related research movements and methods, workshop participants are invited to undertake their own anthro-linguistic analyses of selected datasets to illustrate the kinds of clues and conclusions that can be drawn from paying attention to varieties of sign relation living right under our noses.

Jamin R. Pelkey, Ph.D. is Assistant Professor in the Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures at Ryerson University in Toronto. His Semiotic inquiry brings together Linguistic Anthropology, Historical Dialectology, Embodied Cognition and the Philosophy of Language. He is an award winning teacher and holds a federal grant on a project entitled “Steps to a Grammar of Embodied Symmetry” (2015-2017). His latest book projects are entitled The Meanings of X (under contract with Bloomsbury Academic, 2016) and Sociohistorical Linguistics in Southeast Asia (co-edited collection under review with Brill). In addition many other modes of international scholarship, he has published two books on the Phula languages of China and Vietnam, including Dialectology as Dialectic: Interpreting Phula Variation (De Gruyter Mouton, 2011), and two co-edited volumes in the SSA Yearbook  (Legas, 2014, 2015), a series entitled Semiotics for which he serves as editor-in-chief.

Deborah Smith-Shank, “Semiotics and Material Culture Research Strategies”

This workshop will focus on semiotic strategies used to interrogate material culture and how material culture can be central to research methodologies. By considering material culture through semiotic lenses and identifying underlying codes and myths, it is possible to interrogate the intersections of objects and practices, the nature of our engagements with them, and the contexts through which they engage us at both the affective and cognitive levels. Exploring how and why things make sense within shifting codes of culture is semiotic inquiry, with the understanding that there is no one, or right, answer, and that answers are always contextual, and part of a meaningful, but continuing, story. As related to this year’s theme, material objects will be used as touchstones to consider how what we value enables us to know ourselves, facilitate connectedness, friendship, and perhaps even love.

Deborah Smith-Shank, Ph.D. is Professor and Chair of art education at the Ohio State University. Among her numerous publications is the edited book, Semiotics and Visual Culture: Sights, Signs, and Significance (2004). She served the National Art Education Association as president of the Women’s Caucus from 1998-2000 and president of LGBTIQ from 2001-2003 and the International Society for Education Through Art (InSEA) as executive secretary of the World Council from 2002-2005, World Councilor from 2005-2007, and she currently serves as elected Vice President. Smith-Shank has published over 80 papers in national and international venues and has received national teaching awards and grants to conduct research on material culture and gender in Ireland, Canada, Croatia, the Netherlands, and in the United States.

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About Farouk Seif

Professor Emeritus, Antioch University Seattle, Washington, a registered architect, an artist, a Fellow of the International Communicology Institute, and the former Executive Director of the Semiotic Society of America.