Methods in Cultural Studies: Semiotics and Performativity
How is meaning brought about and communicated? At the heart of this question, as the foundation of all epistemologies, lies the realm of Semiotics: the science of signs. How do signs work? Who determines what a sign stands for? How might this "value" change over time? These questions lead to an investigation of the relationship between signs and their performativity; to an exploration of the ways in which signs do not just re-present reality but actually bring into existence what they stand for.
Canonical texts from the realm of semiotics and performativity (Saussure, Barthes, Austin, Butler...) as well as examples from the realms of art, literature and everyday life will be drawn upon in order to explore the functioning (& sometimes also failure) of signs. We will also ask: what lies beyond the realm of signs?
This course is in English. Students should expect to work in small groups to prepare "dossier" presentations on specific subjects.