3-14 July, 2017 (including dates of arrival and departure)in Tartu, Estonia
The aim of the course is to give an intensive introduction to Lotman’s semiotic theory of culture, its theoretical background and context as well as new developments and applications of his theory in current semiotics and cultural sciences. More specific aim is offer deeper understanding of cultural mechanisms and a set of tools for practical analysis of culture – cultural texts as well as cultural processes – that would afford new insights into contemporary cultural dynamics.
Educated under renown Russian literary scholars like Vladimir Propp, Boris Tomashevsky, Grigory Gukovsky and others, Lotman combined in his works the rich tradition of Russian literary and art theory with the then emergent fields of semiotics and structuralism. Yet his approach never remained limited to either literature and arts nor structuralism. His extensive knowledge on cultural history, influence of cybernetics and information theory, led to his intellectual movement towards more holistic, organic and dynamic modelling of culture as complex, self-organizing system. All these rich influences allowed him to create highly original theory of culture.
3 July – arrival to Tartu4-7 July– lectures, seminars, culture programme8-9 July – free days10-13 July – lectures, seminars, culture programme14 July – departure
15.45-17.00 study visit / fieldwork / cultral programme
* depending on a topic of the day, the study visits and/or cultural programme include fieldwork. Excursion and/or visits to the museum or film watching is connected with the theme of the lecture for practical analysis.
The course gives overview of relevant theoretical and philosophical perspectives necessary for appreciating Lotman’s theory and intellectual approach. For example, Russian literary theory (Russian formalists, Propp, Bakhtin, Jakobson), psychological theory of Lev Vygotsky, Prague Linguistic Circle, relevant linguistic and semiotic theories (Saussure, Jakobson, Peirce), Ilya Prigogine’s theory of complex systems etc.
Theory of modelling systems is one of the most important contribution of Tartu-Moscow School to semiotic theory. Understanding diverse cultural languages as modelling systems used for creating world models (texts), and learning to evaluate the modelling capacity of these systems, that is, the capacity to impact our understanding of the world is central for understanding information processes and mechanisms in culture. Special attention is also given to spatial modelling.
The course introduces Lotman’s approach to literature, cinema and arts, general semiotic mechanisms they share as cognitive-semiotic systems as well as their specificity as sign systems. Theoretical overviews are accompanied with practical analysis.
Textuality of culture was one of the central approaches of Lotman that helped to connect the analysis of individual texts as information bearing models and their interrelationships to the broader functioning of culture as an mechanism that creates, stores and communicates information. For Lotman, the analysis of texts is starting point for the study of culture and history.
We learn how to use textual analysis as a tool for analysing culture, cultural memory, history and autocommunicative processes in culture.
Lotman’s understanding of communication as translation, the role of translatability and untranslatability as a mechanisms of cultural cohesion as well as cultural innovation, creation of new information in culture hav been used fruitfully in translation studies as well as in media studies. The course introduces Lotman’s approach to translation as well as its application in contemporary translation and media studies and in practical analysis of complex communicative and textual phenomena.
The central topic and gathering point of all the above mentiond topics is Lotman’s theory of culture, his model of semiosphere and discussion of continuous and explosive processes in culture. Understanding culture as complex self-descriptive and self-organizing system combines the issues of history and cultural memory, textuality and sign systems, provideing thus tools for holistic cultural analysis across all the levels of culture.
The course will also introduce cultural psychology where Lotman’s understanding of isomorphism between culture and individual as semiotic subjects has been usefully applied for analysing the relations between individual and collective.
Level: BA / MACredits: 4 ECTS
Application deadline: 14 May, 2017. Application period opens in January 2017.Programme fee: 850 € includes tuition fee, cost of the study visits, cultural and social programme, the services of the host university with the accommodation in double rooms at student dormitory. Participants can also organise their own housing, then the the programme fee is 550 €. Students are responsible for their travel, travel insurance (visa arrangements if needed) from their home country to Tartu and back to their home country.Payment deadline: 1 June, 2017.