CFP: Lexia Journal of Semiotics n. 24

Call for Papers
Lexia n. 24

Semiotics of Virality: For an Epidemiology of Meaning.

Download full Call for Papers in four languages: Lexia-24-CFP-Semiotics-Virality-2016

Lexia, the international, peer–reviewed journal of CIRCe, the Center for Interdisciplinary Research on Communication of the University of Torino, Italy, invites contributions to be published in issue n. 24 of the new series.

The topic of the forthcoming issue is “Semiotics of Virality”.

1. Virality?
Users, media, professionals, and scholars talk more and more about “virality”, referring to online communication and, in particular, to social networks. This folk category is a vivid metaphor but lacks heuristic value. It describes what happens to texts that are said “viral” without shedding any light on their nature and functioning. They ‘infect’ social discourses, ‘spread like wildfire’, etc. But what are their features? How are they created? How do they propagate? How are they used? What effects do they have on users? Do they identify a homogeneous class? In addition, the image of contagion carries deterministic and reductionist connotations. It gives Web-users a passive role (‘infected’ subjects do not act, they are objects of action) and seems to endorse the hypodermic needle model (incompatible with the semiotic epistemology).

“Virality” is an umbrella term. It identifies an immensely heterogeneous set of texts and the dominant mode of their appropriation in the contemporary mediasphere. It turns the peculiarities of successful web-texts into something unspeakable and ineffable. Hence, it hinders the creation of specific tools for describing these texts, analysing them, and foreseeing their development. If randomness and accident play an inevitable role in these communicative processes, they are neither their only constituent nor the most important one. Defining a text as “viral” is almost meaningless. It merely tells us that it is rapidly spreading and gaining an important position, at a given moment, among online discourses.

Semiotics is the discipline that studies texts and their pertinence: it allows one to find connections beyond differences and to make distinctions within homogeneity. Hence, it should be able to pinpoint commonalities and singularities in the wide and manifold sets of texts that circulate in the Internet. The discipline of meaning relies on the most rigorous and versatile tools for analysing forms, usages, and transformations of both online practices and texts. So–called Internet phenomena, viral phenomena, and Internet memes represent one of the most fertile macro-areas for the semiotic analysis of online textuality, yet they have been almost completely ignored by the discipline.

Here is the expected publication schedule of the volume:
June 15, 2016: deadline for contributions
July 15, 2016: deadline for referees
September 15, 2016: deadline for revised versions of contributions
December 15, 2016: publication of Lexia n. 24.

Contributions, 30,000 characters max, MLA stylesheet, with a 500 words max English abstract and 5 English key–words, should be sent to Gabriele Marino ( and Mattia Thibault (

Languages: English, Italiano, Français, Español [other languages if reviewers are available].

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