IASS Election: Paul Cobley Presidency Statement


Paul Cobley is Professor in Language and Media at Middlesex University and has been publishing in the field of semiotics and contributing to its administration for over twenty years. He is the author/editor of a number of defining books, including The Communication Theory Reader (1996), Introducing Semiotics (1997; with Litza Jansz), The American Thriller (2000), Communication Theories 4 vols. (2006), The Routledge Companion to Semiotics (2009), Realism for the 21st Century: A John Deely Reader (2009), “Semiotics Continues to Astonish”: Thomas A. Sebeok and the Doctrine of Signs (2011), From First to Third via Cybersemiotics (2011; with Torkild Thellefsen and Bent Sørensen), A More Developed Sign: Interpreting the Work of Jesper Hoffmeyer (2012; with Donald Favareau and Kalevi Kull), Theories and Models of Communication (2013; with Peter Schulz), Narrative 2nd edn (2014) among others. He co-edits one of the leading semiotic journals, Social Semiotics, and is associate editor of Cybernetics and Human Knowing. He also sits on the editorial board of nine semiotics journals. He is co-series editor (with Kalevi Kull) of Semiotics, Communication and Cognition (de Gruyter Mouton) and co-editor (with Peter J. Schulz) of the multi-volume Handbooks of Communication Sciences (de Gruyter). Paul Cobley has been Executive Committee member of the IASS for the UK since 1989 and was elected Vice-President of the International Association for Semiotic Studies in 2009. He is secretary of the International Society for Biosemiotic Studies and in 2013 was named 9th Thomas A. Sebeok Fellow of the Semiotic Society of America.

If elected as President of the IASS, Paul Cobley would be committed to the following priorities:

  • raising funds for the IASS, through expanded membership and increased activity;
  • raising the profile of the IASS and semiotics, as well as encouraging collaboration, through a heightened presence on social media;
  • using communication networks to enhance connections and knowledge about ongoing research and to promote, in particular
    • empirical research in semiotics
    • impact of semiotic research
  • encouraging collaborations between geographical regions where there are strengths in semiotics and other regions (for example, East Asia, South America, Africa);
  • setting up an IASS postgraduate network in semiotics, to share practice and support among early career researchers in the field and to monitor job prospects for young scholars;
  • forging partnerships with cognate traditional academic organisations and commercial organisations/potential funders;
  • ensuring that members receive regular active communications (e.g. emails, alerts, newsletters) from the organisation, rather than passive communications (website postings);
  • negotiating, from a position of strength, with the publisher de Gruyter in order to gain price concessions on semiotic publications for IASS members;
  • negotiating with the editor of Semiotica and de Gruyter to gain an impact factor for the journal;
  • meeting with the editors of other major semiotics journals to ensure SSCI listings for them;
  • making the voting processes in the IASS clearer for members;
  • making the major decisions of the IASS (for example, on future congresses) as transparent as possible;
  • setting up an archive devoted to the IASS and an Open Access repository for members’ publications.

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