CFP – XL Congress of the Italian Association for Semiotic Studies

XL Congress of the Italian Association for Semiotic Studies

Turin, September 28-30, 2012


Semiotics of Subjectivities

In an époque when the meaning of subjectivities seems to be both blurring and confounding in the anonymity of social formations, the automatisms of technology, the fragmentation of networks, and the impotence of hierarchies, but also in the extolment of new narcissisms, the new games of media inter-subjectivity, the recklessness of consumerism, or the detachment of silence, it is urgent that semiotics reflects on the meaning of subjectivities, that is, on the semio-linguistic dynamics that continuously create, undo, and recreate the role of subjects in the internal forum of individualities, in social arenas, and in the mesh of texts.

In its tradition and development, semiotics has variously tackled the issue of subjectivity, progressively re-elaborating its notion in the framework of its more general assumptions. Saussure’s subject seems to hang in the balance between the social pressure of langue and the individual freedom of parole, that of Peirce to be innervated by a tangle of concatenations of signs and inferences, that of Barthes to dangle between the yoke of language and the creativity of reading, that of Greimas to be intertwined with the purchase of value, that of Eco to be embedded in texts through an interplay of simulacra, that of Benveniste to be a shadow in the light of enunciation, that of Lotman to be outlined through bordering and trespassing, and so on. The subject builds language and is simultaneously built by it; it configures value and is also configured by it; it expresses discourse and at the same time hides within it. Hence, the subject mutates not only in individual destinies but also with the changing of historical periods and cultural contexts: conceptions of subjectivity change, and with them, the intertwining of signs around the meaning of self and the other, the subjective and the objective, the individual and the collective.

The congress will be articulated in plenary sessions with invited keynote speakers, workshops, roundtables, and thematic panels of papers submitted by members, on the basis of the following themes:

1. Enunciation and subjectivity.

Papers will deal with the way in which subjectivity turns into discourse and with the switch of enunciation and the different readings of it: the theoretical ones — some of which are strongly ‘subjectivizing’ —, the more classical ones, or those that insist upon the changes in the inscription of subjectivity that are linked to new technologies of communication and textual forms (social networks, the ‘I’s — I-phone, I-pad, I-cloud, etc.), blogs, memorial débrayages, etc.). Papers will moreover deal with the discursive construction of subjects, the semio-linguistic techniques for their production and modification, the semiotic technologies of internal discourse (meditation, prayer, dream, self-persuasion, etc.), the space of silence, and inter-subjectivity.

2. Textual forms of subjectivity.

Papers will deal with the inscription of subjectivity in texts, from aesthesis to self-reference and from the interplay of attantial syncretism between actors and enunciator to ‘interior’ texts, such as dreams. They will also deal with the aesthesis and the anesthesia of textual subjects, the semiotic construction of the textual subject (or rather, of textual subjects, also with reference to the theme of the 2011 AISS Congress), starting from its modalities and strategies of inscription and hence focusing also on the complexity of the textual manifestation of subjectivities (therefore, also the unsaid, the implicit, the omitted, etc.), with the textual genres of subjectivity (including the various forms of interior treatment), and with catalysis and presupposition in the semiosic(?) processes of subjectivity.

3. Theories and cultures of subjectivity.

Papers will deal with historical/cultural constraints of the ways of both construing and perceiving the self, along the lines of some of the works of Foucault but also of Lotman, and with the localization of subjects in semiospheric topologies. They will furthermore deal with the gender dimension of subjectivity, the dialectics between subject and object, the constantly changeable positioning of the distinction between what is subject and what is not in political struggles, ethical reflections, in the artistic and aesthetic elaboration, etc.


Maurizio Bettini

Omar Calabrese

Jean-Claude Coquet

Umberto Eco

Paolo Fabbri

Bruno Latour

Giovanni Manetti

Peter Sloterdijk

Patrizia Violi

Please submit abstracts (500 words maximum) by May 15, 2012, to:

Please consider that speakers will have to enroll as AISS members:

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