The Semiotics Workshop

Culture in Context

Category: Uncategorized (Page 1 of 8)

Fall 2018 Schedule

Thursday, October 11 **from 5-6:30pm**
Meghanne Barker (Harper Schmidt Fellow, University of Chicago)
“Meeting a Stranger”
Thursday, October 25
Elise Kramer (Visiting Assistant Professor of Anthropology, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign)
“Coherent Incoherence: A Genealogy of Deliberate Nonsense”
Thursday, November 8
Hannah McElgunn (PhD Candidate, Department of Anthropology)
“Language at the Center of the Universe”
Thursday, November 29 
Lily Ye (PhD Candidate, Department of Comparative Human Development)
“Doing Science in American Education”
Thursday, December 6
Alice Yeh (PhD Candidate, Department of Anthropology)
“The Double-Dealer’s Soul: Thinking About Confession in the Age of Xi Jinping”

Spring 2018 Schedule

Thursday, March 29
Lily Chumley (Assistant Professor, Media, Culture, and Communication, New York University)
“Fertile Virtue Wealth: Gendered Agencies and the Linguistic Administration of Market Socialism”
Thursday, April 12
Angela Reyes (Professor, Department of English, Hunter College)
“Real Fake Skin: Semiotics of Skin-Lightening in the Philippines”
Thursday, April 19
Cécile Canut (Professor, Université Paris Descartes)
Thursday, April 26 
Colin Halverson (Post-Doctoral Fellow, Vanderbilt University)
“Standard and Legacy”
Thursday, May 10 
Chris Bloechl (PhD Candidate, Department of Anthropology, University of Chicago)
“Authoritative ‘Mixed’ Maya At a Presbyterian Church in Yucatán
Thursday, May 24 
Erik Skjon (PhD Candidate, Departments of Anthropology and Linguistics, University of Chicago)
“An Ecology of Value”

Winter 2018 Workshop Schedule

Thursday, January 11
Britta Ingebretson (PhD Candidate, Departments of Anthropology and Linguistics, University of Chicago)
“”She has two sons:” Reproducing State Discourses in Rural China”

Thursday, January 25
Yaqub Hilal (PhD Candidate, Department of Anthropology, University of Chicago)
“The Semiotics of Liberal Personhood”

Thursday, February 15, 3:30-5pm
Natalja Czarnecki (PhD Candidate, Department of Anthropology, University of Chicago)
“What Gender is Soviet Technoscience? Translating Food Safety Codes with the EU Harmonization Unit at the National Food Agency in Post-Soviet Tbilisi, Georgia”

Thursday, February 22
Ilana Gershon (Associate Professor of Anthropology, Indiana University)
“Hailing the U.S. Job-Seeker as a Failing Neoliberal Subject”

Fall 2017 Schedule

Thursday, October 5
Erik Levin (PhD Candidate, Departments of Anthropology and Linguistics, University of Chicago)
“Have You No Sense of Dicent-cy?: The Amawaka Sensorium and The Practice of Perspectivism”

Thursday, October 19
Perry Wong (PhD Student, Departments of Anthropology, University of Chicago)
“Jurisdiction Over People and Lightning”

Thursday, November 2
Mark Anthony Geraghty (Postdoctoral Fellow, Jackman Humanities Institute, University of Toronto)
“The Essential Inaccessibility of the Law: Prosecuting Crimes of Genocide Ideology in the New Rwanda”

Thursday, November 16
Yazan Doughan (PhD Candidate, Department of Anthropology, University of Chicago)
“Being a Patriot, Becoming an Activist”

Thursday, December 7
Summerson Carr (Associate Professor, School of Social Service Administration, University of Chicago)
“American Spirit: Performance, Presence, and Profit”

2017-2018 workshop schedule

Coming soon!

19th Annual Michicagoan Conference CFP

19th Annual Michicagoan Conference

May 5-6, 2017

University of Michigan, Ann Arbor


2017 Conference Theme

The Writing’s on the Wall


With a keynote address by

Friederike Lüpke

Professor of Linguistics, Department of the Languages and Cultures of Africa

SOAS, University of London


The annual Michicagoan Conference focuses on the social and cultural analysis of semiotic forms centering on language, providing graduate students with an attentive forum in which to present their work and have it discussed by faculty and students. The conference promotes ongoing scholarly exchange and collaboration among students and faculty of the University of Michigan, the University of Chicago, and regional affiliates. We welcome work from graduate students at all stages and encourage participants to submit formal conference papers as well as to present their proposals and research reports. Commentators for each panel are drawn from participating faculty.


This year’s Michicagoan theme addresses signs of inevitability and the inevitability of signs. Linguistic anthropologists have long emphasized the contingency and unpredictability of semiotic and sociohistorical processes. But what about when things just seem inevitable? Looking at symptoms of imminent language death, benchmarks of language development, or compulsive patterns of interaction — certain signs, sequences, and structures seem bound to repeat. Not only attuning to future-oriented acts of forecasting, predicting, and prophesizing, “The Writing’s on the Wall” asks participants to investigate the pragmatics of backward-looking, told-you-so reconstructions of the past.


Participants might consider the following dimensions of inevitability:

– Authority and expertise: Predicting the future or reconstructing the past often requires rituals, experts, and authorized genres. What kinds of expertise is drawn upon in interpreting the inevitable? Who or what can make a prediction? How do these prognostications and post-factum assessments circulate in public space?

– Mediation and writing: Predictions can be mediated by objects and technologies, and by forms of writing, reading, and analysis. Auguries, regressions, weather forecasts — what technologies and literacies are mobilized to read the past or future?

– Prediction and failure: To utter “the writing was on the wall” offers a retrospective account for a seemingly inevitable outcome. But what about cases when the inevitable doesn’t happen? How do actors deal with interactional breakdowns, failed signs, or ambiguous results?

Any research topic addressing the spirit of the theme is welcome, but some might include:
–        Language change and shift
–        Language death
–        Scientific prediction and forecasting
–        Speech acts and performativity
–        Political speech
–        Religious language, divination, prophecy
–        Ritual semiosis and materiality
–        Entextualization and dialogism
–        Semiotics of temporality
–        Natural language processing


Students will have 15 minutes to present. To apply, submit a 250-word abstract to the link below. If abstracts are accepted, complete papers will be due by April 21. There is no registration fee for the conference. Transportation expenses for Chicago student presenters will be covered. Meals will be covered for all registered attendees.


Submission link:

Deadline: March 3, 2017


All other inquiries, including questions concerning access for persons with disabilities, can be directed to

Spring 2017 Schedule

This is our spring schedule:

4.6     Anne Meneley (Trent University): “The Olive and Imaginaries of the Mediterranean”

4.20     Bill Feeney, TBA

4.21     Terra Edwards (Gallaudet University): “Fields and Fieldability in a Protactile World” 3-4:30, H315 (Note the special time and place; this is a joint event hosted by Semiotics and the Sign Language Study Group.)

5.5-6     Annual Michicagoan conference at the University of Michigan

5.18     Yukun Zeng, “Indexicalization”

6.1      Anna Weichselbraun (Stanford), “Measurement of Nuclear Material at IAEA”

Papers are pre-circulated a week in advance. Unless otherwise noted, all the meetings are held in H101 from 4:30-6 PM. Persons with disabilities who believe they may need assistance, please contact Perry Wong at or Briel Kobak


Winter 2016 Schedule

Please join us for the following workshops this winter quarter, continuing the theme “Measures of Value and Values of Measure.” We hope to see you there!
January 12
Terrence Deacon
Professor, Anthropology, UC Berkeley
February 2* (note special date)
Sean Dowdy
Anthropology, UChicago
“’This is Jukowa’: Footless Felicity and the Ethics of Foreplay in Assam”
February 9
Xiao-Bo Yuan
Anthropology, UChicago
“Heterodox signs: measuring excess and deficiency in Chinese Christian discourse”
February 23
Britta Ingebretson
Anthropology and Linguistics, UChicago
March 9
Erik Levin
Linguistics and Anthropology, UChicago

Autumn 2016 Schedule

The Semiotics Workshop Autumn 2016 Schedule:

October 6th – “Grading, Gradients, Degradation, Grace”

Paul Kockelman

Professor of Anthropology

Yale University


October 20th – “‘All there is’: On reconciliation and the poetics of a singing voice”

Robyn Taylor-Neu

Masters in Arts Program for the Social Sciences

University of Chicago


November 3rd – Title TBA (dissertation chapter on democracy as creative vs. reactive enterprise)

Averill Leslie

PhD Candidate, University of Chicago


December 1st – “Exercising Socialist Laborers: Production Calisthenics and the Politicization of Fatigue during the Great Leap Forward China”

Bing Xia

Masters in Arts Program for the Social Sciences

University of Chicago

Michicagoan Schedule

The 18th Annual Michicagoan Graduate Student Conference in Linguistic Anthropology

May 6-7, 2016

3rd Floor Theater, Ida Noyes Hall

University of Chicago


Friday May 6th

9:00 Breakfast and Registration

9:30 Opening Remarks



Panel I: Mobilities and Transnationalisms (9:45 – 11:15)

9:45 A Partner for Peace

Yaqub Hilal

10:00 Mediating Infrastructures: Security and Biometric Belonging in Urban Pakistan

Zehra Hashimi

10:15 On the (An)Aesthetics of Translation: Alienation and Techno-linguisic dependency in Sino-African Mass-Migrancies

Jay Schutte

10:30 Lei Feng wouldn’t drive an Audi

Britta Ingebretson

10:45 Discussant Kristina Wirtz (and audience discussion)
11:15 Break (11:15-11:30)

Panel II: Multimedia and Meta-media (11:30 – 1:00)

11:30 Echo in the archive: Tanya Tagaq’s Nanook of the North

Robyn Taylor-Neu

11:45 You are the problem who is problematizing it”: A frame analysis of Korean Buddhist spontaneous question-answer sessions on YouTube

Yeon-ju Bae

12:00 Musical Lyrics and Youtube Commentary on Kurdish Identity Politics

Sevda Arslan

12:15 Who’s ‘More Musical’?: Underscoring Distinction in Ex-YU Hip Hop DJing

Owen Kohl

12:30 Discussant Ilana Gershon (and audience discussion)



Lunch (1:00 – 2:00)


Panel III: Modeling Identities Multimodally (2:00 – 3:30)
2:00 The Problem and Appeal of Authenticity in Mediatized Maya Discourse

Chris Bloechl

2:15 Technologies of the Hand: Bets, Being a Man, and “Half-Handshakes” in Laos

Chip Zuckerman

2:30 Mediatization and the Assemblage of Political Agents in Turkey’s Kurdish Conflict

Patrick Lewis

2:45 The Role of Trolling in Shaping Cultural Discourse and Identity: a case study of an anonymous internet message board

Marc Lehman

3:00 Discussant: Alaina Lemon (and audience discussion)
3:30 Break (3:30-3:45)

Panel IV: Institutions of Mediation (3:45 – 5:15)

3:45 Seeing the Forest for the Trees: How a Village Council Debates Land Use in a Protected Rainforest

Jessica Pouchet

4:00 Biographies of “Marginal Men”

Perry Wong

4:15 Language as semiotic technology at the International Atomic Energy Agency
Anna Weichselbraun
4:30 The Art of Knowing: Depersonalized Voices and Technologies of Mediation in Turkey’s Kurdistan

Özge Korkmaz

4:45 Discussant: Matthew Hull (and audience discussion)
5:15 Break (5:15 – 5:30)
5:30 – 7:00 Keynote Address: A Short History of Vowels

John Durham Peters




Student Dinner



Saturday May 7th


9:00am Breakfast

Panel V: Framing Absence, Personifying Presence (10:00 – 11:30)

10:00 Speaking in Ashes: Embodied Space in Divination and Grammar

Joshua Shapero

10:15 Coded Engagements: Teasing Siri with ‘Nandeyanen’

Bill Feeney

10:30 The Importance of a Frame

Meghanne Barker

10:45 The Social Media Life of a Deceased Tibetan Poet: Blue Lake, Identity Formations, and WeChat

Huatse Gyal

11:00 Discussant: Chris Ball (and audience discussion)
11:30 Break (11:30 – 11:45)



Panel VI: Translating Medical Assemblages (11:45 – 1:15)

11:45 From Tantra to Textbook: Textual Transformations of Tibetan Medicine

Todd P. Marek

12:00 Trauma as Sign: Temporality and Narrative in “Post-Traumatic Growth”

Livia Garofalo

12:15 Sieving Uncertainty

Colin Halverson

12:30 Billable Language and Artifactual Technologies of Social Work

Matilda Stubbs

12:45 Discussant: Summerson Carr (and audience discussion)



Lunch (1:15 – 2:30)




Panel VII: Reforming the Political, Revealing the Religious (2:30 – 4:00)

2:30 Chronotopes of “We-Ness”: Legacies of an Authoritarian Past and Disappointments with Democracy in the 2014 Indonesian Presidential Campaigns

Fadi Hakim

2:45 Confessional discourse and the language of the liberation-oppression paradigm in the first decade of the P.R.C.

Alice Yeh

3:00 Figuration as Semiotic Technology at the Islamic Center of America

Amanda Kemble

3:15 Reading Prophecies, Taming Demons: Buddhism in Sertar, 1950-1987

Jin Li

3:30 Discussant: Justin Richland (and audience discussion)
4:00 Break (4:00 – 4:15)

Panel VIII: Quantification and Qualification (4:15 – 5:30)

4:15 Technologies of Visualization, Technologies of Scale: Maps, National Crisis, and the Legitimacy of Law in Singapore Urban Planning

Josh Babcock

4:30 Towards a Semiotics of Units: The Rhemacity, Dicensity and Argumencity in the Evolution of Technological Language

Yukun Zeng

4:45 Dangerous evaluations: 360-degree feedback in South Korea

Michael Prentice

5:00 Discussant: Michael Lempert (and audience discussion)
6:00 Dinner and reception

Page 1 of 8

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén

Skip to toolbar