The aim of the course is to give an 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 to 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.
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.
Level: BA and MA
Credits: 4 ECTS
Time: 29 June –10 July; 2020
Programme fee: 1100 € with accommodation, 700 € without accommodation
Programme fee: 1100 € includes tuition, cost of the study visits, cultural and social programme, services of the host university with accommodation in double rooms in a hostel.
Alternatively participants can arrange their own housing and in this case the tuition fee for the academic and cultural programme is 700 €.
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.
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.
Theoretical and philosophical background of Lotman and Tartu-Moscow School
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.
Literature, cinema and art as modelling systems
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.
Structure and functions of text
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.
Translation, inter- and transmediality
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.
Culture, semiosphere, cultural autocommunication
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 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!