CFP: ΧΙ ΙNTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON SEMIOTICS, Thessaloniki, Greece, 14-16 October 2016



The Fugue of the Five Senses: Semiotics of the Shifting Sensorium

Thessaloniki, Greece, 14-16 October 2016

 Organized by the Hellenic Semiotic Society and the School of Journalism & Mass Communications of Aristotle University of Thessaloniki

Western thought has privileged sight above all other senses, placing hearing a distant second and touch, taste and smell among the ‘lower senses’. This hierarchy of the senses was accepted even by Simmel, whose belief that ‘senses build a thousand bridges between human beings’ forms the basic premise of the ‘sociology of senses’ he single-handedly founded. The ocularcentric bias, pervading modern thought, has affected semiotics itself, which proved reluctant to follow up Claude Levi-Strauss’s ‘science of the concrete’ and explore the intricate ‘fugue of the five senses’ characterizing the modern sensory regime. The distinctiveness of the latter was compellingly grasped by Marshall McLuhan who highlighted the ways electronic media demolish the hegemony of vision by fostering a kind of tribal, multi-sensorial sensibility. Since the 1990s, the ‘lower senses’ have attracted the systematic attention of cultural history, sociology, anthropology and philosophy, challenging the simultaneous rise of the Visual Studies paradigm with their insistence on the need to move beyond the hegemony of vision.

The Conference aims to contribute to the investigation and understanding of our current shifting sensorium, by encouraging the examination of the ways contemporary digital technologies, multi-modal texts, multi-medial and multi-sensorial semiosis – in fields as varied as art, museums, popular culture, architecture, urban life, learning, education, social interaction practices and emotional economies both in and out of the internet – disrupt and transform the traditional hierarchy of senses. It also seeks to advance our understanding of how this happens through the sweeping revalidation of the hitherto marginalized senses of touch, smell and taste, as well as the proliferation of multi-sensory and synesthetic regimes of communication and experience.

The Conference invites proposals for individual papers (15-20 minutes long) or panels (incl. 3-4 individual papers) that relate to the following main themes:

  1. The Science of the Concrete: theoretical investigations and elaborations on the semiotics of the senses; sensory semiotics at the crossroad of cognitive, cultural and social semiotics.
  2. Beyond the Hegemony of Vision: the semiotics of the ‘lower senses’ (touch, smell, taste) and of the sensory modalities (proprioception, thermoception, nociception, mechanoreception etc).
  • The Social Life of the Senses: forms of multi-sensorial and multi-modal social interactions, emotional economies and embodied subjectivity in the age of the shifting sensorium.
  1. Digital Synesthesias: world-making and sense-making in digitally based multi-medial and multi-sensorial semiosis, arts and environments.

 Proposals should be submitted electronically to the Conference website:

For all additional information/inquiries please address your messages to:

 Important Dates

Submission of Abstracts/Panel Proposals: 29 February 2016

Notification of Authors: 31 March 2016

Early Registration: 30 June 2016

1st Programme Announcement: 11 July 2016

Late Registration: 8 September 2016

Final Programme Announcement: 12 September 2016

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