Juri Lotman is a distinguished semiotician, literary scholar and cultural historian, versatile and innovative thinker whose ideas have had extensive impact on semiotics and humanities in general. Lotman and his fellow members of the Tartu Moscow School of Semiotics founded the semiotics of culture as a study of the semiotic structures and mechanisms that constitute culture as a dynamic semiotic system. The aim of this program is to give an introduction to Lotman’s semiotic theory of culture, its theoretical background and context, core concepts and approaches as well as new developments and applications of his theory in current semiotics and cultural sciences. The program offers a deeper understanding of semiotic mechanisms of culture and a set of tools for practical analysis of culture that would afford new insights into contemporary cultural dynamics.
The program is divided in two parts.I part: E-course, 7 June – 26 July (2 ECTS)
The first part of the course gives an overview of the theoretical foundations of the semiotics of culture developed by Juri Lotman and the Tartu-Moscow Semiotic School. The focus is on the main theoretical views and concepts of Juri Lotman’s semiotic theory of culture.
The 8-week program is for those who want to introduce themselves with the core ideas of Juri Lotman’s cultural semiotics and their theoretical context.
Participants of the course learn to:
Applications are evaluated based on
Motivation letter (up to 1.5 page) that demonstrates the applicant’s motivation to participate, explains his/her expectations about the programme and how participation in the summer programme is connected with his/her studies and interests, and how the applicant plans to use the gained experience and knowledge in the future.
Location: online and in Tartu
Time: online 7 June – 26 July; in Tartu 7 – 16 August; 2021 (postponed to 2022)
Online form and programme in Tartu (6 ECTS): 950€ (with accommodation 1350€)
Programme in Tartu (4 ECTS): 700 € (with accommodation 1100€)
E-course 250 € .
Expected number of participants: 9
1350 € includes e-course, tuition, cost of the study visits, cultural and social programme, services of the host university with accommodation in double rooms.
Alternatively participants can arrange their own housing and in this case the tuition fee for the academic and cultural programme is 950€.
Students are responsible for their travel and travel insurance (visa arrangements, if needed) from their home country to Tartu and back to their home country.
Scholarships available: Estonian Scholarship Programme for Short Courses
Juri Lotman has been considered one of the most innovative cultural theorists in the 20th century. He established the Tartu-Moscow School of Semiotics – an international group of scholars with diverse background from literary studies, linguistics, mathematics to orientalistics, unified by common interest in semiotics. Their collectively written Theses on the Semiotic Study of Cultures (1973) was the programmatic work initiating semiotics of culture as a field of studies.
The course offers an introduction to Juri Lotman’s semiotic theory of culture and gives an overview of the foundations of Tartu-Moscow Semiotic School. The focus is on the main theoretical views and concepts of Juri Lotman’s semiotics such as modelling systems, text, culture, and semiosphere, cultural autocommunication and self-description, translation, cultural memory and creativity, gradual and unpredictable processes in culture etc. Students will have the chance to explore these ideas through audio-lectures, Lotman’s own writings as well as through his commentators and various additional sources. The lectures and reading materials are accompanied by tests and assignments.
Students will learn to:
Course details and assessment:
The course is web-based and takes place from 7th of June to 26st of July.
The learning environment of the course: http://moodle.ut.ee
The course is made up of seven lessons and final written assessment. Each lesson consists of a pre-recorded audio-lecture, a reading assignment and a task based on the lecture and reading materials.
A new lesson will be published every Monday morning and students will have a week to work through the materials and complete the task by Sunday evening. The final assignment is a short essay (3-5 pages) based on one of the concepts discussed in the lessons. Throughout the course, students will have the possibility to consult the organizers regarding any questions that may arise in the process of learning.Timetable:
07.06 I lesson: Introduction: Juri Lotman, the Tartu-Moscow Semiotic School
14.06 II lesson: Models and modelling systems
21.06 III lesson: Text and translation
28.06 IV lesson: Memory and creativity
5.07 V lesson: Autocommunication and self-description
12.07 VI lesson: Explosion and unpredictability
19.07 VII lesson: Conclusion: (Dynamic model of semiotic systems and) semiosphere
26.07 Deadline for the final written assessment
Languages of culture as modelling systems
Theory of modelling systems is one of the most important contributions 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 is central for understanding information processes and mechanisms in culture. The course introduces Lotman’s approach to semiotic mechanisms shared by arts and media as cognitive-semiotic systems. Theoretical overviews are accompanied with practical analysis.
Textuality of culture: texts and textualization
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 a mechanism that creates, stores and communicates information. We learn how to use textuality as a tool for analysing culture, cultural memory as well as social and environmental spaces. In addition, the course addresses new textual formats and functioning of new media spaces.
Relations between languages and texts in culture: translation, inter- and transmediality
Lotman’s understanding of communication as translation, the role of translatability and untranslatability as mechanisms of cultural cohesion and as cultural innovation has been used fruitfully in translation studies and in media studies. The course introduces Lotman’s approach to translation and its application in contemporary research in contemporary translation and media studies including topics like transmediality and new media.
The central topic and gathering point of all the above mentioned 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, providing thus tools for holistic cultural analysis across all the levels of culture. But it also offers a practical tool for analysing and designing cultural innovations.
The course I participated in combined exciting and thought-provoking lectures delivered by the prominent professors of the University of Tartu, inspiring workshops where you could change your perception of history, culture, understanding of the world and your place in it. What is more, this course will be of interest to students studying philosophy, culture studies, history, linguistics, languages or everyone interested in semiotics.
In addition, during the summer school in Tartu we spend time actively participating in city tours, inter cultural poetry reading evenings, interesting conversations and discussions with bright students from all over the world.
Mariia Polova Click for the full story!