Pub. date: 2006 | Online Pub. Date: September 15, 2007 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412939584 | Print ISBN: 9780761930877 | Online ISBN: 9781412939584| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Semiotics (from the Greek semeioun , meaning “signs”), also called semiology , is generally defined as the systematic study of signs. The founding figures of semiotics are the Swiss linguist Ferdinand Saussure (1857–1913) and the American philosopher Charles Sanders Peirce (1839–1914). Working independently and on different continents, Saussure and Peirce contemporaneously arrived at models of meaning that subsequent writers drew upon to develop semiotic theories and practices. Of the two, Saussure's work has been more influential, serving as the basis for the founding and development of structuralism (“structural semiotics”). Saussure's work provided writers from many disciplines—for example, Levi-Strauss in anthropology, Frye in literature, Lacan in psychoanalysis, Foucault in history, and Metz in cinema—with a method of analysis and a rich store of insights, terms, and concepts that could be used to analyze a wide range of cultural texts and practices. It is well beyond the scope here to identify and ...