Semiotics and Culture

Karin Wenz, Assistant Professor of English, University of Kassel

Eco extends semiotics to a general theory of cultural behavior, which Bettetini  (1986: 307) characterizes as follows: "semiotic methods seemed applicable to the whole sphere of the human activity, and at the same time, any semiotic practice seemed to be a part of a general and holistic semiotics of culture."

Eco's studies in popular culture and the mass media, such as advertising, comics, film, television or detective novels seem to have been a rich source of inspiration for his own successful semiotic novels. His own position towards popular culture is neither that of the 'apocalyptists,' who deplore the decline of culture in the mass media, nor that of the 'integrationists,'who passively fall victim to the illusions generated by these media (Eco1964). Instead, he recommends a critical attitude whose foundation is the semiotic analysis of the form of culture.

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