CFP: Semiofest 2017 – Toronto

MEDIA, MESSAGES AND MEANINGS: Semiotics, form and content

cans2Globally, our media consumption is increasingly relentless, visual, mobile, and interactive. We live in an ‘Electronic Age’ of simultaneous information and in a Global Village arguably ‘as wide as the planet’.  Media theorist Marshall McLuhan – who was a professor at the University of Toronto – introduced these notions way back in the 1960s. Author of the phrase, “The Medium is the Message”, McLuhan may not have been an “official” semiotician, but his discussion of the “meaning structures” produced by the media reflects an intrinsically semiotic view of the world.

Semiofest 2017 will use McLuhan’s “semiotic” approach as a jumping-off point to explore some of the most perplexing and salient issues in the field.

We invite you to share your experiences working with semiotics and semiotic inspired approaches and methodologies to understand media touch points. We would particularly welcome contributions in the following areas:

  1. Brand Touchpoints: Branding has become increasingly predominant as a way of packaging up content. How do you use semiotics to analyse brands across media and geography? How do different touch points convey different meanings? How in your work have you accounted for meanings within logos, brand narratives, sound design, social media?
  2. New Media: modern communication technologies use semiotic sign systems to convey connotative meanings? Share with us your latest approaches to understanding the messages received through online, digital, GIFs and ‘social media’ media – in previous Semiofests, we have had presentations on wordless books, microtexts and emoticons?
  3. Intermediation: Semiofest gives us a precious opportunity to talk about how to demonstrate the relevance of semiotic thinking to paying clients. Our medium is that of academia, commercial clients speak the idiom of financial results. So what medium should we use to best deliver the value of semiotics message? And what, exactly, is that message?

But as in all Semiofests, we also welcome exceptional contributions on any aspect of commercial semiotics from the realms of design, advertising, and all aspects of brand communication.

Abstract submission

Please submit your proposal by January 10th 2017 by using the Easy Chair platform (a link is at the bottom of these instructions).  Questions about submissions may be directed to

The Easy Chair platform will allow you to submit your proposal, including the following items:

  1. The title of your presentation
  2. A presentation abstract of no more than 400 words
  3. Whether you would like to present a case study, a position paper, a methodological innovation, or an original research paper, a critical review paper, or some combination
  4. Any references cited in your abstract (optional)
  5. Some keywords to assist with classification
  6. Three takeaways that our audience – which is interested in the application of semiotics – will benefit from.  Examples of takeaways could be:
    • My presentation will detail a case where semiotic thinking was employed to provide guidance for a branding problem
    • My presentation will present an approach practitioners can use to analyze stimulus material
    • My presentation will discuss key challenges and opportunities in using “academic” tools (such as the Semiotic Square, and others) with “semiotics-naive” clients and give practitioners practical tips on how to introduce (and get acceptance around) key analytical tools

Let’s create together an atmosphere of sharing and learning, July 19-22, 2017!

To begin the submission process on the EasyChair platform, click here!

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