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Cobley, Paul (2015)
Publisher: Institute of Semiotics and Media Studies, Sichuan University
Languages: English
Types: Article
Subjects:
Roland Barthes is one of the most well-known semioticians outside academic circles. That knowledge is sometimes based on misconceptions about his theory of signs, extrapolated from Saussure. This article will offer an outline of Roland Barthes’ sign theory, demonstrating the ways that it is derived and adapted from Saussure and how Saussure is refracted through Barthes’ readings of other linguists. It will look in particular at Barthes’ innovations in sign theory: denotation, connotation and metalanguage, as well as his extension of linguistic thinking to analyse nonverbal modes. It will also discuss Barthes’ notion of ‘myth’ and its influence as a concept. The article will consider a number of instances from media and cultural studies where Barthes’ interpretations have not only given subsequent uses of sign theory license to speculate beyond Saussure’s original linguistic bearing but have also unwittingly contributed to the stagnation of semiotic analysis.
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