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Comments to Semios-L

Paul Rousseau :
Re: Fiske;
Thu, 13 Jun 1996 12:59:43 -0500

Dimitri Mortelmans writes:
>
>First, the 'something other than itself' need also to be something physical
>(perceivable to our senses, as Fiske names it).

From a practical point of view, the "something...." is sensory-based,
something the reader perceives; which is, of course, not the event or
thing, yet something "real" on the physical plane.

>Further, Fiske avoids the question of the content of the sign....
>
It took me a while to get around the confusion about the "content" of the
sign when I finally woke up and realize that what is being discussed here
are constructs.  Again, my students need useful tools and I chose to
present the idea that a sign consists of a 'signifier' and the "signified".
I was able to work with this by using the clothes that my average student
wears to class : jeans, a tee-shirt and a baseball cap.  The signifier (the
three objects of clothes) signified the message "I belong to at group of 15
to 20 year olds"  From this I was able to introduce the concepts of
motivated and constrained signs and so on.

What I like about semiotic analysis (and I am not in any way formally
trained in this...my interest is as one who studied social (political)
science who happens to find himself teaching at a community college to
students studying the technical end of advertizing text (copy, graphics an
so on) is that it provides a good set of anlytical tools.   So, this is why
Fiske appeals to me right now.  he writes for a communication studies
audience and not (I think) as linguistic audience.  Consequently, his book
is "entropic" (as one of my students told me) and may seem to have a lot of
theoretical holes.  It would be great to have Fiske in on this discussion.

>Is there within semiotics an agreement about the synonymy of these terms ?
>Is it possible to insert them side by side in one definition ? Or are there
>some incompatible difficulties ?

I think there are differences, on the surface, as to the content of
concepts like sigs, codes and other key semiotic ideas.  In my courses, I
don't have to deal with that.  All I want the students to have are tools to
be able to make better decisions (in this case) as to what to put into
advertizements.

On the other hand, this discussion is very useful to me in that it helps me
to clarify my thinking about a relatively new subject for me (semiotics)
and that it give me more options as to how I go about teaching this subject
in the future.

Paul Rousseau
St. Clair Beach, Ontario
Canada  (519) 735-7959
roussea@server.uwindsor.ca
=====================================================================
42nd Creative Problem Solving Institute
June 23 - 28, 1996, Buffalo, NY
Call 800-447-2774 for Program Information or email at:  cpsicef@aol.com

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Comments to Semios-L