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Lecture 4

CS 203 Lecture 4: Representation and Semiotics

Communication Studies
Course Code
Greigory De Peuter

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Representation and Semiotics
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Posted to MLS on 21 October
Two essays, 4 options
5 double spaced pages total
Cultural Studies
Semiotics: The study of signs *question on exam about semiotics
Stuart Hall was a founding figure of cultural studies
Semiotics is often associated with cultural studies
Extremely diverse
Groups together a vast range of ideas and perspectives
Young field
Tied to a group of scholars who, in the 1960s, started to study pop culture
Many of whom were trained in English
Cultural studies is concerned with the construction of meaning
Central theme of the reading
To do semiotics is to investigate “how meanings are made and how reality is represented- Daniel
Most common use is in its political sense-here representation refers to the responsibility of elected
representatives to speak on behalf of their constituents. A small number of individuals represent a much
larger population and make decisions on their behalf
Representation is rarely accurate, perfect
Often tested
A site of struggle
When we study communication, and particularly communication content, we are generally studying
practices or processes of representation
Meaning is at the core of representation
“Representation is an essential part of the process by which meaning is produced and exchanged
between members of a culture”
Representation: stand for their objects
ex. a flag represents a nation, stands for Canada
“We cannot have, say, trees in our sentences; we need words to represent them”
Words are representations
“A “system of representation” in which “all sorts of objects, people, and events are correlated with a set
of concepts or mental representations which we carry around in our heads”
Representation is the production of the meaning of the concepts in our minds through language. It is the
link between concepts and language. which enables us to refer to either the ‘real’ world of objects,
people or events, or indeed to imaginary worlds of fictional objects, people, and events
Such a process of representation is what makes communication itself possible
“We are all able to communicate because we share broadly, the same conceptual maps, and thus
interpret the world in similar ways…
Representation has been defined as the act of putting ideas into words, paintings, sculpture, films, plays,
television shows, or any other medium of communication
These industries supply representations
A map is a representation of the place that is seeks to describe
Representations are inherently selective, a simplification of reality, involves selection
Representation is not neutral, some are not overly controversial
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