28458 - Semiotics of Culture (1) (LM)

Course Unit Page


This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.

Quality education Gender equality Reduced inequalities Peace, justice and strong institutions

Academic Year 2021/2022

Learning outcomes

At the end of the course the student is able to: see the culture as semiotic construction; identify the cultural relevance of different semiotic events (individual or collective), as literature, rituals, institutions, television, fashion, common sense; analyze the meaning structures that characterize the cultural events.

Course contents

The course will reflect on the nature of the mechanisms and processes of signification characterizing cultures as semiotic construction, focusing on the origins of a semiotics of culture, its methodological specificity, its current approaches and hybridizations with different disicplines. The authors of reference will be Levi-Strauss, Lotman, Eco. Particular attention will be given to the history / memory relationship and the role of historical discourse in our culture.


The topics covered will be:

1. Semiotic approaches to culture and social (socio-semiotic, ethnosemiotic, semiotics of culture, semiotics of the text)

2- The structuralist approach to culture. Reflections on the myth

3- The theory of Jurij Lotman: semiosphere, modeling systems, self-descriptions, memory etc ...

4- Umberto Eco's theory of culture: encyclopedia, negotiation, ideology

5- Collective passions

The topics discussed will be propedeutics to the second integrated part of the exam, namely SEMIOTICS OF SOCIAL SCIENCES.
In fact, in content, the course is a unique course.


This bibliography is in common with the exam of "Semiotica delle scienze sociali" because the exam is unified.


Mandatory readings


- Lévi-Strauss, C., Antropologia strutturale, Milano, il Saggiatore, 1990 (cap. II, XI, XV)

- Lorusso, A.M., Semiotica della cultura , Roma-Bari, Laterza, 2010

- Lotman, J. e Uspenskij, B., Tipologia della cultura, Milano, Bompiani, 1975 (parte I e parte III)

- Lotman, J., La semiosfera. L'asimmetria e il dialogo nelle strutture pensanti,Venezia, Marsilio, 1985 (pagg. 1-145)

- Lotman, J., Tesi per una semiotica delle culture, Roma, Meltemi, 2006 (seconda parte + “Il decabrista nella vita”)

-Lorusso, A.M. “Pensando al futuro: memoria e posterità” in Versus-Quaderni di studi semiotici, n. 131, 2020

- Demaria, C., Semiotica e memoria, Roma, Carocci, 2006 (Prima parte: “Riflessioni sulla memoria)

- Demaria C., Il trauma, l'archivio, il testimone, Bologna, Bononia University Press, 2012 (Introduzione e prima parte)

- Violi, P. , Paesaggi della memoria, Milano, Bompiani, 2014 (parte I. “Ricordare il trauma: dalla coazione al patrimonio traumatico”)

Moreover, one text more, to be selected between these ones and useful for the final essay. This list is partial and just orientative and other titles could be agreed with the teacher:

- Del Marco, Vincenza, Pezzini Isabella(ed), Passioni collettive. Cultura, politica e società, Roma, Edizioni Nuova Cultura [http://www.nuovacultura.it/] , 2012

-Demaria, C.; Violi, P., “The Act of Documenting: Joshua Oppenheimer’s The Act of Killing”, Media, War & Conflict, 2019, https://doi.org/10.1177/1750635219871910

-Demaria, C. Piluso, F., “Immaginari premediati. Futuro e consumo del presente nelle narrazioni seriali”, Vs, 2, 2020.

- Demuru, P., Essere in gioco, Bologna, BUP, 2014

- Geertz, C., Antropologia interpretativa, Bologna, il Mulino, 1988 (cap. 1, cap. 3 e cap. 4)

- Hammad M., “Il Museo della Centrale Montemarini a Roma”, in I. Pezzini, P. Cervelli eds. Scene del consumo: dallo shopping al museo, Meltemi, Roma, 2006, pp.203- 279.

- Marrone. G. Figure di città. Spazi urbani e discorsi sociali, Mimesis, 2013

- Marrone, G. Buono da pensare. Cultura e comunicazione del gusto, Carocci, 2014

- Marrone, G. Semiotica del gusto. Linguaggi del cibo, della cucina, della tavola, Mimesis "Insegne", 2016

- Mazzucchelli F., Urbicidio. Il senso dei luoghi tra distruzioni e ricostruzioni nella Ex Jugoslavia, BUP, Bologna, 2010

- Panosetti D., Pozzato M.P. (ed) Passione vintage. Il gusto per il passato nei consumi, nei film e nelle serie televisive, Roma, Carocci, 2013

- Pezzini, I. Semiotica dei nuovi musei, Roma-Bari, Laterza, 2011

- Pezzini, I. Spaziante, L. (eds) Corpi mediali. Semiotica e contemporaneità, ETS, 2014

- Pozzato M.P. (ed), Testi e memoria. Semiotica e costruzione politica dei fatti, Bologna, il Mulino, 2010

- Pozzato, MP, Visual and Linguistic Representations of Places of Origins. An Interdisciplinary Analysis, Cham, Switzerland, Springer International Publishing, 2018

- Salerno, D. Terrorismo, sicurezza, post-conflitto, Libreria Universitaria, 2012

Teaching methods

The course will alternate to traditional lectures analytical lessons that will see the presentation of stuents' and scholars' works.

Since the final exam consists of an analytical exercise, the frequency of lessons and active participation is strongly recommended, so as to progressively participate in the acquisition of the analysis tools.

Assessment methods

The final exam includes a  unique written essay , in common for Semiotics of Culture and Semiotics of the social sciences, which must be agreed with each of the teachers.

The following indications are recommended:

  • the paper must respect the length of a maximum of 40,000 characters (remaining between 30,000 and 40,000 characters)
  • it must be an analysis paper, with a clear description of the corpus and the reasons for the selection
  • the analysis must be framed by an introduction to the general problem and the research questions that animate the paper
  • the clarification of one's methodological approach is required (authors and reference texts)
  • there must be clear conclusions

The essay must be delivered 10 days before the exam, in duplicate (one for each teacher). If the paper is insufficient, the student can work on the same topic only for another attempt.


ERASMUS STUDENTS could write the paper in English or French or Spanish.


Teaching tools

Ppt and video will be used to support the teaching.

Office hours

See the website of Anna Maria Lorusso