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Daniel Chandler

Related: semiotics - media theory


Daniel Chandler is a Lecturer in the department of Theatre, Film and Television Studies at the University of Wales, Aberystwyth. He is the author of Young Learners and the Microcomputer and The Act of Writing: A Media Theory Approach and of Semiotics: The Basics an introductory guide to semiotics, which is published in its entirety on the web at http://www.aber.ac.uk/media/Documents/S4B/semiotic.html

Daniel Chandler's homepage is http://users.aber.ac.uk/dgc/

He has written on diverse subjects as: Semiotics for Beginners, The Portrayal of Technology in Literature and Film/, The Act of Writing, Notes on ‘The Gaze’/, An Introduction to Genre Theory/, 'Great Divide' Theories, Phonocentrism, Graphocentrism & Logocentrism/, Marxist Media Theory/, Technological or Media Determinism/. He is one of the most prolific academic online publishers.

Semiotics for beginners

Although Saussure stressed the importance of the relationship of signs to each other, one of the weaknesses of structuralist semiotics is the tendency to treat individual texts as discrete, closed-off entities and to focus exclusively on internal structures. Even where texts are studied as a 'corpus' (a unified collection), the overall generic structures tend themselves to be treated as strictly bounded. The structuralist's first analytical task is often described as being to delimit the boundaries of the system (what is to be included and what excluded), which is logistically understandable but ontologically problematic. Even remaining within the structuralist paradigm, we may note that codes transcend structures. The semiotic notion of intertextuality introduced by Julia Kristeva is associated primarily with poststructuralist theorists. Kristeva referred to texts in terms of two axes: a horizontal axis connecting the author and reader of a text, and a vertical axis, which connects the text to other texts (Kristeva 1980, 69). Uniting these two axes are shared codes: every text and every reading depends on prior codes. Kristeva declared that 'every text is from the outset under the jurisdiction of other discourses which impose a universe on it' (cited in Culler 1981, 105). She argued that rather than confining our attention to the structure of a text we should study its 'structuration' (how the structure came into being). This involved siting it 'within the totality of previous or synchronic texts' of which it was a 'transformation' (Le texte du roman, cited by Coward & Ellis 1977, 52). http://www.aber.ac.uk/media/Documents/S4B/sem09.html

Authorship and intertextuality

Theorists of intertextuality problematize the status of 'authorship', treating the writer of a text as the orchestrator of what Roland Barthes refers to as the 'already-written' rather than as its originator (Barthes 1974, 21). 'A text is... a multidimensional space in which a variety of writings, none of them original, blend and clash. The text is a tissue of quotations... The writer can only imitate a gesture that is always anterior, never original. His only power is to mix writings, to counter the ones with the others, in such a way as never to rest on any one of them' (Barthes 1977, 146). In his book S/Z, Barthes deconstructed Balzac's short story Sarrasine, seeking to 'de-originate' the text - to demonstrate that it reflects many voices, not just that of Balzac (Barthes 1974). It would be pure idealism to regard Balzac as 'expressing himself' in language since we do not precede language but are produced by it. For Barthes, writing did not involve an instrumental process of recording pre-formed thoughts and feelings (working from signified to signifier) but was a matter of working with the signifiers and letting the signifieds take care of themselves (Chandler 1995, 60ff). Claude Lévi-Strauss declared that: 'I don't have the feeling that I write my books, I have the feeling that my books get written through me... I never had, and still do not have, the perception of feeling my personal identity. I appear to myself as the place where something is going on, but there is no "I", no "me"' (cited in Wiseman & Groves 2000, 173). --Daniel Chandler via http://www.aber.ac.uk/media/Documents/S4B/sem09.html [2004]

Essay Writing [...]

Writing Academic Essays and Reports - Some Guidelines for University Students http://www.aber.ac.uk/media/Modules/writess.html

Semiotics: The Basics () - Daniel Chandler

  1. Semiotics: The Basics () - Daniel Chandler
    Book Description
    Following the successful Basics format, this is the book for anyone coming to semiotics for the first time. Using jargon-free language and lively, up-to-date examples, Semiotics: The Basics demystifies this highly interdisciplinary subject. Along the way, the reader will find out what a sign and a text are, what codes we take for granted, how semiotics can be used in textual analysis and who Saussure, Peirce, Barthes and Jakobson are and why they are important. Features include a glossary of key terms and realistic suggestions for further reading.

    Daniel Chandler decided to write this book because at the time there were no books providing an introduction to the complex subject of semiotics. There are now a number of titles on the market, but Chandler's is by far the best. At once accessible, Semiotics: The Basics, takes the reader through all the stages in the evolution of an understanding of semiotics and contextualises with clear examples. I used this book while writing my final undergraduate dissertation and had to read many of the other books on semiotics, but this is the book that I kept coming back to when I needed refreshing both in the basics and the more sophisticated concepts of semiotics. If you are an undergraduate just starting a course in semiotics then buy this book. And if you are about to teach a course in semiotics then read this book and recommend it to your students. --hicharlie2001 for amazon.com

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