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ARTH301: Art Historical Methodologies

Unit 7: Semiotics   Semiotic theory originally developed in the field of linguistics and has been used by art historians to question the very system whereby meaning and interpretation is created.  In contrast to the other methodologies you have studied so far, semiotic theory allows for many different interpretations of an artwork because it argues that meaning is created in the act of viewing.  After completing this unit, you will be able to explain the major elements of semiotic theory and how they can be used to analyze works of art.

Unit 7 Time Advisory
This unit will take you approximately 15 hours to complete.

Unit7 Learning Outcomes
Upon successful completion of this unit, the student will be able to:

  • Identify and explain major elements of semiotic theory and how they can be used to analyze art.

  • Lecture: Yale University: Paul Fry’s ENGL 300: Introduction to Theory of Literature “Lecture 8 - Semiotics and Structuralism”  Link: Yale University: Paul Fry’s ENGL 300: Introduction to Theory of Literature “Lecture 8 - Semiotics and Structuralism” (HTML)
     
    Instructions: View this lecture, which explores some of the basic principles in semiotics of its founding theorist, Ferdinand de Saussure. You may also read a transcript of this lecture here.
     
    Terms of Use: These resources are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 license. They are attributed to Yale University and the original versions can be found here.

  • Lecture: Yale University: Paul Fry’s ENGL 300: Introduction to Theory of Literature “Lecture 10 - Deconstruction I”  Link: Yale University: Paul Fry’s ENGL 300: Introduction to Theory of Literature “Lecture 10 - Deconstruction I” (HTML)
     
    Instructions: View this lecture. It outlines the basic principles of deconstruction theory in the work of Jacques Derrida. You may also read a transcript of this lecture here.
     
    Terms of Use: These resources are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 license. They are attributed to Yale University and the original versions can be found here.

  • Reading: Columbia University: Sonja Drimmer’s “Saussure: An Introduction” Link: Columbia University: Sonja Drimmer’s “Saussure: An Introduction” (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Please read through all eleven pages on this website.  It provides an introduction to Ferdinand de Saussure’s concept of the sign by clicking on the arrows on the upper right hand corner.
     
    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Reading: The University of Chicago: Theories of Media: Keyword Glossary: Hua-Ling Linda Chang’s “Semiotics” Link: The University of Chicago: Theories of Media: Keyword Glossary: Hua-Ling Linda Chang’s “Semiotics” (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Please read this introduction to the field of semiotics in its entirety.
     
    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Reading: Wikipedia’s “Art History: Barthes and Semiotics” Link: Wikipedia’s “Art History: Barthes and Semiotics” (PDF)
     
    Instructions: Please scroll down and read this short overview of how semiotics has been used by various art historians.
     
    Terms of Use: The article above is released under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0 (HTML).  You can find the original Wikipedia version of this article here (HTML).

  • Reading: University of Chicago: Kristan Hanson’s “Annotations on Mieke Bal and Norman Bryson’s ‘Semiotics and Art History’” Link: University of Chicago: Kristan Hanson’s “Annotations on Mieke Bal and Norman Bryson's 'Semiotics and Art History'” (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Please read this overview as an introduction to Mieke Bal and Norman Bryson’s "Semiotics and Art History," a detailed and multifaceted article which discusses the possibilities that semiotics offers as a methodology to art historians.
     
    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Reading: University of Glasgow: Journal of Art Historiography: Raymond Spiteri’s “A Farewell to Modernism? Re-reading T.J. Clark’” Link: University of Glasgow: Journal of Art Historiography: Raymond Spiteri’s “A Farewell to Modernism? Re-reading T.J. Clark” (PDF)
     
    Instructions: Please scroll down the webpage (about ¾ length), select this article by clicking on the “3-RS/1” following the article’s title, and read the article in its entirety.  This text discusses the T. J. Clark’s interpretive strategies in sections of “Farewell to an Idea: Episodes from a History of Modernism” and many of the methodologies and theorists you have studied in this class.
     
    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.