Saturday, April 11, 2015

Double or…nothing: Deconstructing cultural heritage

This paper draws on the deconstruction(ist) toolbox and specifically on the textual unweaving tactics of exemplarity, parergonality and supplementarity, with view to critically assessing institutional and ordinary tourists’ claims to authenticity as regards artefacts and sites of ‘cultural heritage’. Through the ‘destru[k]tion’ of claims to ‘originality’ and ‘myths of origin’, that function as preservatives for canning such artefacts and sites, the cultural arche-writing that forces signifiers to piously bow before a limit-ed string of ‘transcendental signifieds’ is brought to full view (as the nihilistic secret behind and beneath the impossibility of self-presencing of the modernist axiology that underpins them). The stench of the aeons is thus forced to evaporate through a post-transcendentalist opening towards originary myths’ original doubles.

Keywords: exemplarity, parergonality, supplementarity, cultural heritage

Friday, January 2, 2015


Title: Semiotics of Popular Culture
ISBN: 978-3-86219-556-5
Author: George Rossolatos
Release date: January 2015
Pages: 193

Google Books

Download the Introduction and the Table of Contents from

Publication objectives
Cultural studies constitutes one of the most multi-perspectival research fields. Amidst a polyvocal theoretical landscape that spans different disciplines semiotics is of foundational value. In an attempt to effectively address the conceptual richness of the semiotic discipline, a wide roster of perspectives is evoked in this book against the background of a diverse set of cultural phenomena, including structuralist and post-structuralist semiotics, semiotically informed psychoanalysis, cultural semiotics, film semiotics, sociosemiotics, but also, to a lesser extent, music semiotics and more niche, but certainly promising perspectives, such as postmodern semiotics, ethnosemiotics, phenomenological semiotics and rhetorical semiotics. The recruitment of semiotic frameworks and concepts is enacted against the background of advances in cultural studies (thus reinstating the dialogue with a discipline that took form by drawing on semiotics in the first place) and the various research streams that have become consolidated within the wider cultural studies territory, such as memory studies, celebrity studies, death studies, cultural geography, visual studies. At the same time, the offered readings engage dialogically with Consumer Culture Theory. As regards the diversity of cultural phenomena that constitute the empirical substratum of the offered analyses, music, cinema, new media, live-shows, branding, advertising and literature constitute the focal areas of concern. Under the aegis of a permeating textuality paradigm, the ubiquitously applicable tools of multimodal analysis, and time-hallowed qualitative research methods facilitated by advances in videography and archival research, the featured semiotic readings aim at scrutinizing the wider social implications and communicative functions of popular cultural artefacts, spectacles, processes and places, such as Lady Gaga’s monstrosity, Dio’s memorial, experiential consumption events, the ice-bucket challenge video meme.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Before the consummation what? On the role of the semiotic economy of seduction in the production of the cultural field of flirtation

The cultural practice of flirtation has been multifariously scrutinized in various disciplines including sociology, psychology, psychoanalysis, literary studies. This paper frames the field of flirtation in Bourdieuan terms, while focusing narrowly on the semiotic economy that is defining of this cultural field. Moreover, seduction, as a uniquely varied form of discourse that is responsible for producing the cultural field of flirtation is posited as the missing link for understanding why flirtation may be a peculiar case of non-habitus, contrary to the received notion of cultural field as set of goal-oriented practices and actionable habituses. This argument is pursued by highlighting the endemic traits of ambivalence and constant reversibility of signs or multimodal semiotic constellations in the discourse of seduction, while seeking to demonstrate that seduction, and by implication the cultural field of flirtation, do not necessarily partake of a teleological framework that is geared towards the consummation of sexual desire. 

Keywords: habitus, cultural field, semiotics, flirtation, seduction, semiotics.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Lady Gaga as (dis)simulacrum of monstrosity (Celebrity Studies)

Lady Gaga’s celebrity DNA revolves around the notion of monstrosity, an extensively and multifariously researched concept in post-modern cultural studies. This study draws on biographical and archival visual data relating to the Gaga phenomenon with a focus on the relatively underexplored live-show, with view to elucidating what is really monstrous about Lady Gaga. The argumentation that is put forward by drawing largely on Deleuze & Guattari’s notion of monstrosity, as well as on their approach to the study of sign-systems that was deployed in Thousand Plateaus, is supportive of the position that monstrosity as sign seeks to appropriate the horizon of unlimited semiosis as radical alterity and openness to signifying possibilities. In this context it is argued that Gaga is a simulacrum of herself (supreme signifier) and at the same time a (dis)simulacrum or dissimulative (feigned) simulacrum. Gaga is monstrous for her community insofar as she demands of her fans to project their semiosic horizon onto her as simulacrum of infinite semiosis, albeit a simulacrum that, in (the) reality (principle), may only be evinced dissimulatively in a feigned manner as (dis)simulacrum. Pursuant to an extensive analysis of the linguistically unarticulated, yet multimodally considerably more insightful imagery from seminal live shows during 2011-2012, Gaga’s presumed monstrosity is ultimately rendered as more akin to hyperdifferentiation. 

Keywords: monstrosity, sign systems, flows of intensity, territorialization, Lady Gaga

On the way to the ‘multimodal turn’ in interpreting and managing consumption experiences (under review Consumption, Markets & Culture)

Consumer culture theory and practice constitute a uniquely varied stream in the wider marketing discipline. Amidst this inherently polyvocal landscape new concepts and methods are constantly introduced that provide novel perspectives and augment our understanding of drivers, contexts and occasions of discrete consumption phenomena. In this context this paper seeks to provide an introductory overview of the potential contributions of the conceptual panoply and methodological toolbox of multimodal research that is rooted in the perspective of social semiotics in framing and systematically interpreting consumption phenomena with a focus on experiential consumption. The offered outline comprises a review of selected experiential consumption studies or studies that offer interpretive accounts of consuming distinctive types of experience which it then transcribes in multimodal terms. This transcription is intent on highlighting the relative merits in pursuing a multimodal analytical route to mapping how meaning emerges for distinctive social groups from consumption experiences. In parallel, the argumentation is geared towards the reverse path, that is pointing to areas of synergy and complementarity between multimodal and consumer research in an attempt to demarcate an inter-disciplinary space of fruitful dialogue.
Keywords: experiential consumption, consumption experiences, sociosemiotics, multimodality.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Handbook of Brand Semiotics (forthcoming 2015)

Semiotics has been making progressively inroads into marketing research over the past thirty years. Despite the amply demonstrated conceptual appeal and empirical pertinence of semiotic perspectives in various marketing research streams, spanning consumer research, brand communications, branding and, above all, consumer cultural studies, there has been a marked deficit in terms of consolidating semiotic marketing research into a coherent discipline with identifiable boundaries and research agenda.  The Handbook of Brand Semiotics aims at furnishing a compass for the perplexed, a set of anchors for the inquisitive and a solid corpus for scholars who are already versed in brand semiotics, while highlighting the conceptual richness and methodological diversity of semiotic perspectives. Written by a team of expert scholars in various branding related fields, such as Angela Bargenda, John Bateman, Xavier Ruiz Collantes, Ana Côrte-Real, Paulo Lencastre, Dario Mangano, Fransesco Mangiapane, Gianfranco Marrone, Jennie Mazur, George Rossolatos, Carlos Scolari, Göran Sonesson, Dimitar Trendafilov, Ilaria Ventura, and edited by George Rossolatos, Chief Editor of the International Journal of Marketing Semiotics, the handbook is intended as a point of reference for scholars who wish to enter the ‘House of Brand Semiotics’ and explore its marvels.  The Handbook of Brand Semiotics, actively geared towards an inter-disciplinary dialogue between perspectives from the marketing and semiotic literatures, features the state-of-the-art, but also offers directions for future research in key research streams, such as:
-       Analyzing and designing brand language across media
-       The contribution of semiotics in transmedia storytelling
-       Narrativity approaches to branding
-       Semiotic roadmap for designing brand identity and the impact on brand image
-       Semiotic roadmap for designing packaging
-       Peircean approaches to branding and brandcomms
-       Sociosemiotic approaches to analyzing and designing brandcomms
-       Brand semiotic aesthetics and corporate identity
-       From brands as artifacts to brands as experiences
-       Semiotics and cultural branding
-       Brand equity semiotics

Title: Handbook of Brand Semiotics
ISBN: 978-3-86219-564-0
Publisher: Kassel University Press
Release date: Q4 2015
Editor: George Rossolatos
Pages: 300

Thursday, October 30, 2014

A Dio: A sociosemiotic/phenomenological account of the formation of collective narrative identity in the context of a rock legend’s memorial (Southern Semiotic Review 5(1) 2015)

Southern Semiotic Review 5(1) 2015 

God is dead, but, contrary to Nietzsche’s diagnosis, ‘we’ didn’t kill him; he died of cancer. This perhaps crudely cold and off-putting opening, of course, does not refer to a naively metaphorically constituted transcendental abstraction, but to a spatio-temporally situated rock legend, Ronnie James Dio. This study aims at contributing to the burgeoining research field of memory studies by providing a sociosemiotic account of the formation of collective narrative identity in the context of the memorial event of Dio. By focusing on the factors that set apart the memorial of a rock star from ordinary commemoration events alongside the identified three major categories whereby collective memory is formed, that is artifacts, processes, places, as well as according to the three key sociosemiotic metafunctions which are responsible for shaping a cultural event as sign system, the pursued interpretive route seeks to effectively contextualize how the bespoke form of situational collective memory is fleshed out.  At the same time, by expanding the interpretive canvass to incorporate phenomenological perspectives on the modes of formation of collective memory, the offered analytic is intent on tracing invisible structures that point to operative mechanisms beyond the formal constraints of a sociosemiotic reading. Both phenomenological and sociosemiotic approaches are reinscribed within an overarching narrativity paradigm, wherein their relative merits in addressing the scrutinized phenomenon are discussed in an attempt to formulate a hybrid sociosemiotic phenomenological perspective of memorial events.

Keywords: memorial, commemoration, phenomenology, sociosemiotics, rock music