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Archive for the ‘Semiotics’ Category

Paul H. Fry on “Post-Colonial Criticism”

In Arts & Letters, Books, Britain, British Literature, Eastern Civilizaton, Fiction, Historicism, History, Humanities, Law, Literary Theory & Criticism, Literature, Novels, Pedagogy, Philosophy, Politics, Rhetoric, Scholarship, Semiotics, Teaching, The Novel, Western Civilization, Western Philosophy on February 24, 2016 at 8:45 am

Below is the next installment in the lecture series on literary theory and criticism by Paul H. Fry. The previous lectures are here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.

 

Paul H. Fry on Deconstruction, Part II

In American Literature, Arts & Letters, Books, Epistemology, Fiction, History, Humanities, Literary Theory & Criticism, Literature, Pedagogy, Philosophy, Politics, Postmodernism, Rhetoric, Scholarship, Semiotics, Teaching, The Academy, Western Civilization, Western Philosophy, Writing on November 12, 2014 at 8:45 am

Below is the ninth installment in the lecture series on literary theory and criticism by Paul H. Fry.  The previous lectures are here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.

Paul H. Fry on “Linguistics and Literature”

In Academia, Arts & Letters, Humanities, Literary Theory & Criticism, Literature, Pedagogy, Philosophy, Rhetoric, Rhetoric & Communication, Semiotics, Teaching, The Academy on August 6, 2014 at 8:45 am

Below is the seventh installment in the lecture series on literary theory and criticism by Paul H. Fry.  The three two lectures are here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.

Paul H. Fry on “Semiotics and Structuralism”

In Arts & Letters, Books, Communication, Humanities, Literary Theory & Criticism, Literature, Pedagogy, Philosophy, Rhetoric, Scholarship, Semiotics, Teaching, The Academy, Western Philosophy, Writing on July 16, 2014 at 8:45 am

Below is the seventh installment in the lecture series on literary theory and criticism by Paul H. Fry.  The three two lectures are here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.

Kenneth Burke’s Constitution: In Brief

In Arts & Letters, Communication, Humanities, Information Design, Literary Theory & Criticism, Philosophy, Rhetoric, Rhetoric & Communication, Semiotics, Western Philosophy on August 8, 2012 at 8:45 am

Allen Mendenhall

Kenneth Burke treats the constitution—or, in some cases, constitutions—as a dialectic, symbolic act that is representative of the tendencies and preferences of communities.  Burke applies the elements of the pentad—act, agency, agent, scene, and purpose—to form what he calls paradigmatic anecdotes for understanding how constitutions apply to and interact with communities.  The pentad, for Burke, is equipment for simplifying complex ideas into understandable categories or anecdotes.  It provides, in that sense, what he calls an “idiom of reduction” for understanding human motives.

Humans are sign-using creatures motivated by different “grammars,” and it is a grammatical move to interpret human action in terms of the pentad.   A constitution is not simply a tangible document—indeed, as Burke points out, there is no written constitution in Britain—but instead represents a symbol of the coordination of individuals that provides them with a calculus for determining not only how to act, but also how to know what motivates action.

Constitutions put forth general types, or principles, that can be considered ideals, and these types, principles, or ideals provide standards or criteria by which individuals in a community aspire to act.  A constitution is therefore more of a symbol of that which coordinates human behavior within a given community than it is a top-down imposition of legislative fiat.  A constitution, in short, is a communicative sign validated and made useful by its ability to induce cooperation among people.

Erie Doctrine Flowchart

In Advocacy, Civil Procedure, Communication, Humanities, Law, Legal Education & Pedagogy, Legal Research & Writing, Pedagogy, Rhetoric, Rhetoric & Communication, Semiotics, Teaching on June 22, 2011 at 12:00 pm

Jonathan Board lives in Northern Appalachia with his wife and three children.  A graduate of West Virginia University College of Law, he has also attended Harvard Extension School, Fairmont State University, and the University of Cincinnati. Beyond legal commentary, he enjoys civic and community volunteerism, theological and ethical discourse, technologies, and athletic coaching.

The Erie doctrine vexes law students year after year.  For that reason, Mr. Board created this flow chart to help struggling law students through their Civil Procedure courses.

Law & Literature: A Basic Bibliography

In American History, Arts & Letters, Law-and-Literature, Legal Education & Pedagogy, Literary Theory & Criticism, Nineteenth-Century America, Novels, Pedagogy, Politics, Rhetoric, Rhetoric & Communication, Semiotics, Slavery, The Literary Table, The Supreme Court, Western Civilization on April 2, 2011 at 9:16 pm

Patrick S. O’Donnell compiled this bibliography in 2010.  He teaches philosophy at Santa Barbara City College in California.  This bibliography first appeared over at The Literary Table

Amsterdam, Anthony G. and Jerome Bruner. Minding the Law. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2000.

Atkinson, Logan and Diana Majury, eds. Law, Mystery, and the Humanities: Collected Essays. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2008.

Ball, Milner S. The Word and the Law. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1993.

Bergman, Paul and Michael Asimow. Reel Justice: The Courtroom Goes to the Movies.  Kansas  City, MO: Andrew McMeels Publ., revised ed., 2006.

Best, Stephen M. The Fugitive’s Properties: Law and the Poetics of Possession. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 2004.

Binder, Guyora and Robert Weisburg. Literary Criticisms of Law. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2000.

Biressi, Anita. Crime, Fear and the Law in True Crime Stories. New York: Palgrave, 2001.

Black, David A. Law in Film: Resonance and Representation. Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press, 1999.

Brooks, Peter. Troubling Confessions: Speaking Guilt in Law and Literature. Chicago, IL: University of  Chicago Press, 2001.

Brooks, Peter and Paul Gewirtz, eds. Law’s Stories: Narrative and Rhetoric in the Law. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1998 ed. Read the rest of this entry »

Joan Richardson on Emerson, the Pragmatist

In American History, Arts & Letters, Book Reviews, Communication, Creative Writing, Information Design, Literary Theory & Criticism, Pragmatism, Rhetoric, Rhetoric & Communication, Semiotics on December 9, 2010 at 9:22 pm

If pragmatism is, as Joan Richardson claims, “thinking about thinking” (79), and if Emerson is, as Richardson claims, a pragmatist, then we might ask ourselves what intellectual tradition Emerson appears to appropriate and modify.  What are Emerson’s “moving pictures” (the title of Richardson’s chapter on Emerson), and how do they receive and transmit thought and theory?  Richardson seems to suggest that, for Emerson as for Jonathan Edwards, nature and imagination are mutually reinforcing and inextricably tied concepts.  Emerson works out of Edwards’s paradigms while altering them to fit his own historical moment.  Emerson mimics not only Edwards’s intellectual framework—his theories—but also Edwards’s diction and syntax (63).  Put differently, Emerson imitates a concept while imitating the vocabularies through which that concept passed down to him. 

What makes Edwards and Emerson unique is their turn to nature to make sense of the “transcendent.”  Just as Edwards looks to spiders and light to aestheticize his theology and exhilarate his congregation, so Emerson looks to nature to spiritualize the human mind.  Both men observe and then internalize the natural world to refine their thinking about thinking.  For Emerson, however, the human mind is itself an organism—one hungry for knowledge.  The mind is not so much “the room of the idea” as it is a living being with an appetite for thought (67).  Emerson employs and seeks out metaphor to organize this thought—one might say to satiate his ravenous intellectual appetite—and he does so because he realizes “the seminal role played by image” (68).  The world, for Emerson, is full of semiotic possibility, and one can arrive at truths about reality through the study of metaphor.  Science, after all, uses signs and symbols—i.e., metaphors—to test and decode the natural world (see, e.g., Richardson on the “metaphor intrinsic to biology’s emergence as a distinct field”) (69).     Read the rest of this entry »

Signs Taken For Truths

In Arts & Letters, Communication, Legal Research & Writing, Literary Theory & Criticism, Rhetoric, Rhetoric & Communication, Semiotics on October 24, 2010 at 5:45 pm

Recently I was reading Erika Lindemann’s book A Rhetoric for Writing Teachers (New York & Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001).  I was preparing for class and needed some inspiration from someone far smarter. I found that inspiration in Lindemann’s chapter “What Do Teachers Need to Know about Linguistics?”  I won’t go into how I used that chapter for class but would like to expand on what Lindemann calls “graphic conventions” (62).

Focusing on the “role language plays in composing, especially at the writing and rewriting stages,” Lindemann argues that writing instructors need a greater facility with English linguistics to understand the composition process—specifically, to understand how students select and appropriate diction (60).  This premise leads Lindemann into a discussion of alphabets and symbols with linguistic values (62).

Lindemann’s claims about how matters of taste are always braided with “our assumptions about what language should and shouldn’t be” are interesting, but this post discusses what language might be.

Language can become a vehicle for discovering “truth.” Literature, made up of language, can become, to employ Kenneth Burke’s phrase, equipment for living.  By “truth” I don’t necessarily mean moral truth.  I mean physical truth.  Language is a system of meaning that makes truth—the referent—intelligible even if it only signifies or stands in the place of reality.  Read the rest of this entry »

Constructing Tony Montana, Scarface

In Arts & Letters, Communication, Film, Information Design, Legal Education & Pedagogy, Scarface, Semiotics on August 12, 2010 at 4:17 pm

Brian de Palma’s Scarface (1983) adopts and adapts several conventions of the gangster genre that feature prominently as icons on posters and in trailers for the film.

These conventions constitute and perpetuate the narrative image of “gangster” that audiences have come to expect from gangster films.  Big guns, flashy jewels, impeccable suits, sexy women—these are the signifiers de Palma employs as semantics of the gangster genre.  They summon forth ideas of “the gangster” before audiences ever see the film.

Scarface is a remake of another gangster film.  Viewers who are unaware of this fact will nevertheless recognize the gangster signs and symbols used to market it.  Tony Montana’s image remains popular today, some twenty-seven years after the film’s production.  Scarface has become a lasting contribution to our national culture.       Read the rest of this entry »

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