Juri Lotman Lectures
November 14, 2018 at 10.15
Gunther Kress: "A social semiotic account of meaning and meaning-making: getting beyond the past and its frames"
The renowned semiotician and social scientist Gunther Kress gave a public lecture on ‘A social semiotic account of meaning and meaning-making: getting beyond the past and its frames’ at the Department of Semiotic of the University of Tartu.
In his lecture, Professor Kress discussed the traces of past frames and their continuing limiting effects on present understandings. His concept of ‘semiotic work’ expands the traditional understanding of learning and communication. The central thesis of the lecture is that communication is always also learning.
Gunther Kress is Professor of Semiotics and Education at University College London, University of London. His most important works include ‘Before Writing: Rethinking the Paths to Literacy’, ‘Literacy in the New Media Age’, and ‘Reading Images: The Grammar of Visual Design’, co-authored with Theo van Leeuwen.
The recording of the lecture can be seen here: https://www.uttv.ee/naita?id=27789
For Juri Lotman, lectures were an essential form of communication with students and colleagues. It was a way for exploring new ideas, therefore in addition to obligatory courses he often gave special courses – Lotman’s courses. New ideas were brought forth in dialogue and the dialogue was founded on respect for his audience. Remarkable for Lotman was his capacity to connect with any audience, be it students, members of different academic disciplines or a mass audience of his televised lectures.
JURI LOTMAN LECTURES is a series dedicated to his memory. The series calls for continuous dialogical inception of new ideas by inviting the scholars who are already in dialogue with Lotman’s legacy to elaborate their ideas in dialogue with those who value the semiotic tradition of Tartu-Moscow School.
The lecture series is supported by the European Union through the European Regional Development Fund (Center of Excellence in Cultural Theory CECT).
May 30, 2016
Professor John Hartley - "Understanding Social Media: The Turn To Evolution, Complexity and ´The Three Bigs`"
Abstract of the lecture
Juri Lotman's concept of the semiosphere has proven highly influential in the study of contemporary popular media and journalism. His revolutionary proposition is that culture is a planetary system, like the biosphere or atmosphere. At the same time, semiospheres are scale-free and mutually interactive, bounded by border-zones of intensive semiotic energy (translation as conflict and cooperation). Culture as a system of systems operates at micro (agent), meso (institution) and macro (system) levels. This approach has two important consequences for the study of contemporary media. First, it reconnects media studies with the natural sciences. Second, it offers a model for understanding the globalisation of creative media, communications and everyday life in the era of the internet.
In this talk, John Hartley outlines the new ‘Cultural Science’ approach, following Lotman’s insights into the semiosphere and linking them to advances in evolutionary and complexity sciences. Here, creativity is not simply an individual attribute (talent) or output of firms (copyright). It is the production of newness in complex systems under conditions of uncertainty. Likewise, culture is not confined to professional arts and elite heritage. Instead, analytical attention shifts to ’the three bigs':
- ‘Everyone’ (populations not persons);
- ‘Everything' (creative productivity not just economic activity);
- ‘Everywhere’ (all countries and cultures, not just advanced economies).
This approach reveals the true scale, energy and potential (not to mention waste) of creative productivity. It also enables a coherent overall conceptualisation of the creative economy and culture. Here, innovation arises from cultural sources such as DIY culture, user-created content, network effects (including ‘creative destruction’) and the clash of systems. At the same time Cultural Science reintegrates humanities and the evolutionary sciences by investigating how ‘culture makes groups; and groups make knowledge’.
* The talk draws on John Hartley’s recent books: Cultural Science (with Jason Potts, Bloomsbury 2014); Creative Economy and Culture (with Wen Wen & Henry Siling Li, Sage 2015); and The Creative Citizen Unbound (edited with Ian Hargreaves, Policy Press UK, 2016).
Renowned media scholar John Hartley, currently Professor of Cultural Science at Curtin University, Australia, has been applying semiotic tools in media studies since his first, celebrated book "Reading Television" written together with John Fiske in 1978. Professor Hartley has published over twenty books about communication, journalism, media and cultural studies. Lotman's ideas on culture as a semiotic system have played an important part in his approach to media, cultural industries and innovation.
December 5, 2014
Professor Edna Andrews: "The importance of Lotmanian semiotics to sign theory and the cognitive neurosciences"
Abstract of the lecture:
Lotman’s contribution to semiotic theory, anthroposemiotics, the study of artistic texts and defining the relationship between language and culture represent some of the most powerful work produced within the Tartu–Moscow School of Semiotics. Key fundamental principles of Lotman’s theoretical work include a fully developed dynamic and interactive modelling of the semiosphere, the importance of acknowledging multiple (never singular) languages as minimums of semiotic meaning-generation, culture text-level generation of collective memory, and the ever-present tension in communication acts. These principles are essential in deepening our understanding of the neurological interface of language, memory and culture. This presentation will explore the importance of Lotmanian paradigms for understanding variation at the neurological level by examining human evolution of higher cognitive functions and cognitive neuroscience approaches to the study of brain and languages.
Edna Andrews is a Professor of Linguistics and Cultural Anthropology, Nancy & Jeffrey Marcus Distinguished Professor of Slavic & Eurasian Studies, and Chair of the Linguistics Program at Duke University, USA. She received her PhD from Indiana University and holds an honorary doctorate from St. Petersburg State University (Russia). Her books include Markedness theory: The union of asymmetry and semiosis in language(1990), About Sintetizm, Mathematics and Other Things: E.I. Zamiatin’s novel WE (1994, in Russian), The Semantics of Suffixation (1996), Conversations with Lotman: Cultural semiotics in language, literature and cognition (2003), A Calculus of Meaning: Studies in Markedness, Distinctive Features and Deixis (1996, edited volume). Her newest book is Neuroscience and Multilingualism (Cambridge University Press, 2014). Recent articles in cognitive neuroscience and semiotics include “H.M’s Language Skills: Clues about Language and the Medial Temporal Lobe” (2005), “Semiospheric transitions: A key to modelling translation” (2009), “Language and Brain: Recasting Meaning in the Definition of Human Language” (2011). Professor Andrews is the guest editor for a special issue devoted to brain and language of the journal Brain Sciences (2013). Her current research includes an extensive longitudinal functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) study of second language acquisition and multilingualism. The first paper published from this study appeared in Brain Sciences 3(2): 849–876, 2013 (Multilingualism and fMRI: A longitudinal study of second language acquisition, co-authored with C. Casabo-Voyvodic, J. Voyvodic and J. Wright). Professor Andrews was awarded the University Scholar/Teacher award on September 26, 2013 by the President of Duke University, Richard Brodhead.