Modelling is one of the foundational problems in semiotics both on the level of phenomena under study and that of research methods. Since all semiotic systems can be viewed as modelling systems - systems that shape the information about the world while mediating it – and, conversely, any type of models and modelling can be regarded as semiotic phenomena, semiotics itself has been defined as modelling of modelling or metamodelling.

Both on the object-level and the metalevel, the issue concerns the way models and modelling influence how we relate to the world and make sense of it, as well as what kind of knowledge do models, modelling and metamodelling provide about the world, thinking, behaviour and scientific activity.

Modelling is the topic of the 2011 Tartu Summer School of Semiotics, first because the concept of modelling systems is one of the most original contributions to semiotics from the Tartu-Moscow school of semiotics, and simultaneously one of the principal foundations of the Tartu approach to semiotics, but also because, despite the centrality of this subject to semiotics, and exsistence of many approaches with varying scope and terminology, a systematic and comprehensive semiotic treatment of this issue still needs to be carried out.

The purpose of the Summer School is to achieve a more coherent and thorough understanding of the depth and scope of the modelling problem in semiotics, by inviting the representatives of different branches of semiotics to reflect upon the topic. The aim is to reach an understanding of how already existing approaches are related and what are the main gaps in understanding modelling semiotically. More systematic understanding of modelling in semiotics is also a prerequisite for defining fundamental methodological principles for semiotics and for moving towards increasing flexibility of methodological thought.

The themes of Summer School include, but are not limited to:

1. Semiotic phenomena as models / modelling phenomena; how and why semiotic systems and processes influence the way we experience and understand the world.

(For example: signs as models; thinking as sign process as modelling; mental models, mental diagrams; sign systems as modelling systems etc.)

2. Modelling semiotic phenomena and models in semiotics: the heuristic, methodological, etc. aspects of research in semiotics or, more broadly, in the humanities / social sciences.

(For example: models of sign, semiosis, sign system, text, communication, etc; issues in modelling culture, living systems, etc.; static and dynamic models in semiotics; exclusivity and complementarity of models, total models; modelling and metamodelling.)

3. Modelling as semiotic activity: what sort of epistemological and methodological insights for semiotics and other disciplines does the understanding of the semiotic nature of modelling provide?

(For example: models as the objects of semiotics and modelling as semiotic activity; semiotic analysis of the reliability and the authority of models, their heuristic and predictive functions; human factor in modelling; the relationship between understanding that is provided by the model and understanding that precedes and enters into the model, etc.)


Submission and deadlines

Participants are invited to submit a description of their contribution to the topic of summer school (500-800 words) to by April 20, 2011.

We encourage participants to send the draft version of one's position on modeling (or specific aspect of modeling) by August 1, 2011. It will be made available for other participants to prepare for the discussions.

Decisions regarding acceptance will be made by April 30, 2011.