- Series: Introducing
- Paperback: 176 pages
- Publisher: Totem Books; Third Edition edition (April 26, 2001)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1840465840
- ISBN-13: 978-1840465846
- Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 0.6 x 8.4 inches
- Shipping Weight: 9.1 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 9 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,144,662 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Introducing Semiotics Third Edition Edition
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About the Author
Paul Cobley is Senior Lecturer in Communications at London Guildhall University.
Top customer reviews
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What I find is that these books in general, and this title specifically, prepares your for deeper reading by giving you the gist of things, and thus allows you to engage other texts with greater sustain and keener acumen. There are other series of course, Cambridge has their wonderful, if frequently denser, Companion series, and Paul Strathern has made his career giving a similar gist in 90 minutes. I would say that the people at Totem have hit the so-called sweet spot with these though. Strathern is too often concerned with biographical detail for my tastes, and spends less time with the ideas themselves (though of course the life of a thinker is important to understanding them. Cambridge has wonderful guides, but even these may be a tad much for someone merely seeking to dip their toe in and take a look around. This is why I recommend this series.
The graphic approach hopefully renders these concepts more accessible to a wider audience, and can indeed make what are often thought of as dull subjects, quite entertaining.
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.
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.
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