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Introducing Semiotics

9 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1874166559
ISBN-10: 1874166552
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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Paul Cobley is Reader in Communications and London Metropolitan University. Litsa Jansz is an acclaimed illustrator

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Product Details

  • Series: Introducing
  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Totem Books (July 20, 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1874166552
  • ISBN-13: 978-1874166559
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,353,359 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By BB on August 14, 2006
Format: Paperback
While I found another of this series clear, informative, and entertaining, entitling this work Introducing Semiotics is a misnomer. This work does not serve well for someone hoping to gain an introduction to semiotics which will provide a basic framework to build on.

Though the author does introduce us to key figures in the development of semiotics and gives the reader some idea of the relationships between them - a useful list for further study - the main theme is not coherently presented.

The book reads much more like a very loosely ordered collection of snippets from lecture notes or casual discourses between semioticians planning on writing a book. Topics are interleaved and skipped between in at best a partially constructive manner. Often ideas are introduced in a way that seems like we're joining their discussion midway through. The level of technical jargon is high and the writing style showcase's the author's extensive vocabulary without an equal capacity to bring the terms and ideas into a simpler, working summary with straightforward examples. And many of the examples that are included tend to obscure than clarify the topic.

The illustrations are interesting and give the page layout a welcoming feeling which the text unfortunately does not support. I would look for another book if you want a useful introduction to semiotics.
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28 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Nota Rikon on August 1, 2001
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Introducing Semiotics isn't the best of the Introducing series but it is a good read. I have accumulated several of the Introducing study guides and find them delightful. They are the right length for weekend reading and the illustrations are always amusing.
Introducing Semiotics was one of the more difficult in the series due to the busy style in which it was written. I had to reread about half of the book before completely grasping it, not because of the subject matter but because of the wording. It felt like the author was trying to hard to to make things sound nice rather than trying to elucidate the topic.
Despite the writting style, the book was very helpful. It is a must for anyone who is studying something related to semiotics, like film theory, and needs a jumping off point for research. It isn't too in depth to understand but it still covers all the major topics that you will likely have an essay question or two on.
To sum things up... If you're looking for informative entertainment, get one of the other introducing books, but if you need a semiotics study guide it is definitley worth the nine or ten bucks.
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27 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on December 17, 2003
Format: Paperback
I purchased this title because I was interested in getting a firm grounding in semiotics, with a rich historical background thrown in, and I've had really good luck doing just this with other books in the Intriducing series. I ended up greatly disappointed, to the tune of not even finishing the book (a rarity for me).
The explanations are sadly lacking. For instance, the author spends a whole two pages giving definitions for terms such as icon, symbol, and index. Often, definitions for crucial terms like these are offered in the form of too-short and too-simple examples.
The book also tends to style over substance. Sentences are needlessly obtuse. More time is spent on comparing and contrasting barely differing viewpoints of minor figures in the field that were never explained in the first place. I felt like I was in a poorly-done parody of some post-post-modernistic semiotics seminar.
I still love the Icon Books "Introducing..." series, but I'll look elsewhere for a semiotics primer.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Semioticghost on February 28, 2006
Format: Paperback
"Introducing Semiotics" aims to provide a taste of the study of signs and the theories that have grown from it in the 20th century. It identifies key theorists from either side of the atlantic and tries, -sometimes unsuccessfully- to explain the simple concepts behind difficult terms. Charles Pierce's thinking is still over my head, for instance, but I'm admittedly slow on the uptake sometimes.

Lacan's Lectures on Technique may continue to languish unread on my shelf, but maybe I can stop being lazy now, because this introduction has made him less intimidating. This is partly due to Jansz's illustrations - plucky and surprising in the often abstract matter they portray.

"Introducing Semiotics" has given me a taste for communication theory, and made me want to pick up Eco again, so all in all, it's good.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Michael Strassberg on January 4, 2009
Format: Paperback
This book claims to be an introduction, and it claims to try to simplify the subject matter, but it fails. In any introductory text, simplification is essential, which means that certain things must be left out or condensed. However, if too many important concepts are oversimplified or edited out completely, the book fails to achieve its stated goals. This is the case in "Introducing Semiotics."

For example, early in the book, the author discusses Peirce, one of the fathers of semiotics. He introduces terms such as immediate, dynamic and final interpretant; representamen, firstness, secondness and thirdness. He even places them in charts and tables to show correlations between these concepts. The problem is that he never defines these terms well enough, and never gives examples of how they operate in real life. This makes them virtually incomprehensible, and, paradoxically, makes the entire subject seem too abstract and complex for the layman to understand. This is the antithesis of what a book like this should do; it should make a subject like semiotics approachable, interesting and relevant. The book fails to do so. A much better introduction that is easy to read and understand is "This Means This, This Means That: A User's Guide to Semiotics" by Sean Hall. This Means This, This Means That: A User's Guide to Semiotics
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