Semiotics of Culture
Core courses: Semiotics (Glick), Linguistic Anthropology (Glick), Language and Identity (staff), Language and Materiality (staff), The Body (Elliston)
A growing number of researchers within anthropology and across the social sciences use a semiotic – philosophical theory of signs and symbols – approach to the study of cultural phenomena. Binghamton offers courses that study various sociocultural and linguistic phenomena from a semiotic perspective via mass media, language and identity, the production of meaning and cultural ideology.
As a central, influential institution in industrialized societies, mass media is understandably a growing area of research for scholars taking a semiotic approach. Similarly, in a mass-media dominated era when identity is a central socio-political construct, semiotics offers us the ability to sort through many-layered signs of identity and how they are enacted in social life.
Finally, semiotics' most far-reaching contribution emerges in how it can analyze the ways cultural life is constructed, maintained and challenged. Semiotic studies of the production of meaning and cultural ideology are central questions of focus.