Semiotics of Culture: Postmodern Invisible Geographies
Dr. Paul Harris

"Tridimensional artistic view of the Verhulst Dynamics"
Image by Jean-Francois Colonna, used with permission

Course description:

This class will explore the relations between writing, the self and space in the postmodern era. The readings and writing assignments seek to define, draw and then continually reconfigure the boundaries between imagined places, textual spaces, and physical environments; we will move fluidly between words and things, and in the process create and begin to inhabit written spaces.

This is both a theory and a writing class, and our readings and assignments reflect both components. We will develop a theoretical framework of semiotics, the study of sign systems, and then see how this framework illuminates a series of fictional and critical works. In particular, the course focuses on how sign systems become self-reflexive and invent new signs, and in the process generate new "invisible geographies."  Our readings will be quite diverse: a range of postmodern novels, critical theories of culture, semiotics and writing in the computer age, and texts on architecture and cities. The quantity of the reading is not overwhelming, but some texts are complex.

Course Texts:


You will generate a continuous text that accumulates as we go. For each unit, the text will be collected, responded to, and given a grade for that unit. You will then receive a final grade at the semester's end on the text as a whole, the final grade reflecting the average of the seven unit grades, with improvement and effort taken into account. You will also be graded for participation in the class, which includes your contributions to both class discussions and collective writing projects.