Priit Põhjala
University of Tartu, Department of Semiotics



This, the fourth Hortus Semioticus, includes several cultural semiotic studies, which have been completed for lectures on semiotics of advertising and marketing, semiotics of self and other, and semiotics of film.

In her article entitled "The aspect of deterrence in commercials", Mari-Liis Madisson focuses on one of the central human emotional states – fear – and examines how this base emotion is evoked in advertising – a form of communication characterised by appeals to fear. Laura Põld’s piece, "Depicting women and "erotica" in the art of advertising", talks about the sexual objectification of women in advertising. The author approaches this often-examined subject through very prominent examples, having chosen to analyse advertisements in which women’s bodies are not actually displayed, but are nevertheless portrayed sexually and mock feminist criticism.

The main objective of the articles related to semiotics of self and other is to emphasise the characteristic complexity of the cultural phenomena that are being examined; this complexity must be comprehended to fully understand these cultural phenomena. In the article entitled "About the complexity of self and other in the war literature" Peeter Kormašov studies the boundaries of self and other in war with their construction/non-construction and relativity. Kristjan Tamm tests the effectiveness of the differentiation between the concepts of self and other on music, and in the article "The Own and the Alien in Arvo Pärt's «Credo»" also arrives at the conclusion that the concepts being examined are relative contrasts, which embody each other, are dependent on viewpoints and objectives, and have the potential to metamorphose into one another.

In his article, Henri Kõiv examines Jim Jarmusch’s film Dead Man, employing David Bordwell’s theory of the four levels of meaning. The interpretation of the film depends on the level(s) at which the interpreter is able to understand the film; each level reveals something new about the film, giving it new meaning and adding some new dimension. The second semiotic film study, Kristo Nurmis’ "Social and political space-time in Michael Haneke's «Cache»" tries to detect the mechanisms that help to promote the film’s social and political message. The various space-times created and chosen by the film’s director are examined as the central message creators.

The articles are supported by several regular features: the interview (this time Morten Tønnessen talks with professor John Deely); "Meditationes Semioticae"; and an overview of the seminar, bachelor’s and master’s papers defended during the 2008/2009 academic year.