About the Workshop:

This workshop seeks to advance research based on a semiotic framework. Presentations will come from a variety of fields including but not limited to linguistics, psychology, sociology, political science, literary theory, and anthropology. By not limiting the topic of research by area, period or discipline, the workshop encourages discussion to center on how to study social and cultural phenomena as embedded in a meaningful context. By building on many seminal studies that have used semiotic approaches, the goal of the workshop is to continue to develop the rigorous analytic framework that provides the method for clearly defining linkages between the object of analysis and its context.

If you encounter problems with this website or have questions about the workshop, please contact the graduate student coordinators Rachel Howard (rhoward3@uchicago.edu) and/or Josh Babcock (jdbabcock@uchicago.edu)

2017-2018 Theme: 

“Modality, Value”

The Semiotics: Culture in Context Workshop is now accepting submissions for the 2017–2018 academic year. As usual, this workshop serves as a forum for scholars attuned to the emergent production of linguistic, cultural, social, and otherwise material phenomena via diverse semiotic processes. Our theme for the year is “Modality, Value.”

We seek papers that take semiotic approaches to “value” in its various instantiations across heterogeneous semantic and disciplinary fields: the reflexive enactment of (often group-specific) sociological values in the plural; economic value as relative desirability or scarcity within a market; or (meta)linguistic value as “meaningful difference” (Graeber 2001:1–2) in a system of differences, to name a few of the more common social-theoretical uses. We also seek papers that engage “modality” within an equally heterogeneous field: semantico-grammaticalized expressions of possibility and necessity (linguistic modality); logical relations involved in statements of possibility and necessity (modal logic) (Hacking 1967), especially as these mediate expressions of epistemology, ontology, and metaphysics; or communication theories of “multimodality” in the multi-medial composition of “messages” (Kress and van Leeuwen 2001) across media life-cycles and afterlives (Collins, Durington, and Gill 2017), especially as these become salient in approaches to embodied or otherwise materialized communicative activity, such as sensory perception, gesture, writing, audiovisual processing, spatial aspects of language, and the like.

Through this theme, we seek to attend to relations between and among linguistic codes; their sociopragmatic uses-in-(and -as)-context across variously-scaled discursive types (utterances, typified genres, registers); the kinds of relations expressed (and expressable); their by-degrees codifications (linguistically, legally, habitually); and the entailments of these relations in subsequent uptake in social life. When, how, and for whom do modalities become (de)valued? When, how, and for whom are ascriptions or expressions of possibility or necessity made valuable?