On 25 November at 16:30 Lydmyla Zaporozhtseva will defend her doctoral thesis „Structural Units of Mass Culture Mythology: A Cultural Semiotic Approach“.
Senior Research Fellow in Semiotics Andreas Ventsel, PhD
Professor Kristian Bankov, PhD, New Bulgarian University
Professor Evripides Zantides, PhD, Cyprus University of Technology
This dissertation presents a semiotic study of myth revealing in contemporary mass cultural texts and exploration of its inner semiotic machinery. Although a variety of studies have been devoted to myth, and quite a few studies have tackled mass culture issues, less attention has been given to the systematic articulation of mass cultural mythology and its markers, which reveal its inner semiotic machinery. Those issues are relevant not only from a general theoretical philosophical, anthropological, and semiotic point of view, but also have concrete applicability in marketing semiotics and social communications.
Firstly, I discuss mass culture under an emancipatory umbrella approach and explore mass culture mythology from the sociological, philosophical-anthropological and semiotic perspectives. Secondly, I combine two main epistemological attitudes of myth and integrate a holistic object of research – which appears as a meta-concept – from one side, and a text of culture – mass cultural narratives around brands conveying their main values – from the other side. Thirdly, I discuss the smallest units of mass culture mythology and explore its most widespread structural units. I classify the smallest units of myth by their structural principles: the emic units (mythologemes) and the hybrid ones (mythemes). There are the mythologemes of Fate, Course, Universe, Catastrophe, Golden Age, and Mother Nature, and the mythemes of Transformation and Backtracking considered in detail. The main existential values of those smallest mythological units are discussed. The mythologemes of Fate and Course help to understand individual life as a part of an integral whole. The mythologeme of Mother Nature relates to the existential search for inner authenticity and identity. The mythologemes of Universe, Catastrophe, and Golden Age constitute an integral triadic idea about time and space (past-present-future) and reflect the human existential quest for an explanation of the world origin, nostalgia for the past and fears about the future. The mytheme of Transformation represents the idea of mythological miracle, and the mytheme of Backtracking appeals to the idea of a mastered time and space. Fourthly, I extend the process to finding more minimal units of myth in cultural texts of different genres. The first case is dedicated to close analysis of the television communication of the Ukrainian politician Darth Vader. This case demonstrates the combination of archaic meanings and contemporary forms of myth within a narrative, producing new powerful connotations. The second case applies the Mother Nature mythologeme as a branding tool for building a coherent image of a musical artist.
The further exploration of the mythologemes and mythemes and articulation of other semiotic markers of myth systematically enriches a profound understanding of human mind and culture.