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The Subject of Semiotics Paperback – December 13, 1984

ISBN-13: 978-0195031782 ISBN-10: 0195031784

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press (December 13, 1984)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195031784
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195031782
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 0.7 x 5.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #325,902 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"Her explanations are lucid and her exemplary analysis of poetry, fiction, and film are profuse and acute."--Robert Scholes, Brown University

"Admirably thorough and lucid....Professor Silverman's meticulous unravelling of complexities...puts its case with a vigour and commitment."--Times Literary Supplement

"An excellent and important, even beautifully written book."--American Film

"A lucid and imaginative introduction to advanced semiotic research."--David E. Wellberg, Stanford University

"Highly original treatment of great interest. Brings very important and unusual material (especially from French writers) to bear on structuralism, communication, psychoanalysis, [and] anthropology."--Nur Yalman, Harvard University

"Admirably organized and written. She makes sense out of a great mass of diverse ideas....Not only a fine introduction to contemporary thought, but a positive contribution to it."--Christopher Collins, New York University

"Enters an important field of contemporary critical debate and makes the issues forcefully clear. It makes accessible to the English-reading public the relationships between and among structuralism, semiotics, psychoanalysis, feminism, and post-structuralism."--Gayatri Chakrovorty Spivak, University of Texas, Austin

"Superb text for the topic in a feminist theory class--so lucidly written."--Jeanie K. Forte, University of Tennessee

About the Author

Kaja Silverman is at Simon Fraser University.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 21 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 21, 2002
Format: Paperback
In many respects Silverman's _Subject of Semiotics_ is a brilliant introductory work to post-structuralist approaches to semiotics. First, Silverman's style of exposition is exceedingly clear and provides numerous examples from literature and film to support her claims and aid the reader in discerning how structuralist principles can be applied. Moreover, Silverman displays extensive knowledge of both structural linguistics and Freudian psychoanalysis. If the book limited itself to Freud and structuralism I would unhesitatingly give it four stars, however Silverman's presentation of Lacan suffers from serious misrepresentations. For instance, in reference to Plato's myth of the three sexes, Silverman writes, "One of these assumptions [that Lacan shares with Plato] is that the human subject derives from an original whole which was divided in half, and taht its existence is dominated by the desire to recover its missing compliment. Another of these assumptions is that the division suffered by the subject was sexual in nature-- that when it was "sliced" in half, it lost the sexual androgyny it once had and was reduced to the biological dimension either of a man or a woman. This biological dimension is seen by Lacan, if not by Plato, as absolutely determining the subject's social identity. Finally, Lacan shares with Aristophanes the belief that the only resolution to the loss suffered by the subject as the consequence of sexual division is heterosexual union and procreation" (152). For those familiar with the work of Lacan, these claims are absurd. While it is true that Lacan argues that we spend our entire life looking for that missing piece of ourselves, nowhere does Lacan claim that this lack results due to biology.Read more ›
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Robert Jordan on July 20, 1999
Format: Paperback
Extremely useful for the student attempting to learn about Jacques Lacan, Roland Barthes, et. al. especially for the cinema student. I credit this book with getting me through several grad school film theory courses!
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 23, 2001
Format: Paperback
To the unititiated, the world of semiotics can be daunting. Silverman's book can help. Though not an easy read for those unfamiliar with structuralism, post-structuralism and post-modern thought, the author presents the history and ideas of the most important contributers in the field. One should not, however, take her interpretations as the final word on the authors whose work she describes and interprets. Read Silverman, read the primary sources, compare, and make your own decisions. This book is absolutely necessary to those who would understand the likes of Saussure and Lacan.
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By Matthew Hominick on August 11, 2007
Format: Paperback
Kaja Silverman does an excellent job of describing the history and philosophy behind semiotics. She has a compendium of knowledge about the many pioneers of semiotics and summurizes each individuals contribution, such as Derrida, Saussure, and Barthes.
Like Josheph Campbell ("The Hero with a Thousand Faces"), Silverman focuses on psycoanalysis and Freudian thought to help solidify semiotics as a modern form of literary criticism.
For anyone interested in semiotics or just wanting to get a general view of how this discipline can be utilized in literature, film, and popular culture "The Subject of Semiotics" is the perfect place to explore.
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful By coatzzz on January 22, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
bought this for a college class. it is a very difficult read and i would suggest graduate students would even have difficulty understanding it. it is definitely not something you would pick up for some casual reading. i really dont know who would want this book unless it was required reading for a class as was my case.
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