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MC | Prof. Timo Maran (University of Tartu) | Masterclass on ecosemiotics: Conceptual toolbox for reconnecting culture and ecosystem


Oct 26, 2022 from 02:00 to 04:00 (Europe/Berlin / UTC200)


GCSC (SR 109) & Online (BBB)

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The workshop aims to raise awareness of the conceptual models through which our culture relates to other species and ecosystems and to look for possibilities to revise these. I will introduce and discuss some ecosemiotic concepts and tools such as Umwelt theory, biotranslation, ecological codes, and ecosemiosphere. Particular emphasis is placed on iconic and indexical signs, affordances, and tacit knowledge that enable literature, art, media, and other forms of culture to become grounded in the broader ecosystem. We will also discuss the challenges of environmental crises to human culture and strategies for moving towards semiotic practices that are simpler, integrated, and more significant.

Preparatory task: 1) Relying on your personal history and experience, try recalling an actual situation where your linguistic categories or conceptual models affected your attitude or behavior towards other species or nature in general. 2) Examine these linguistic categories or conceptual models and suggest what should be changed in these to develop better connections and understanding of other species or nature.


Texts to read:

Augustyn, Prisca 2013. Man, nature, and semiotic modelling or How to create forests and backyards with language. Sign Systems Studies 41(4), 488–503.

Maran, Timo 2020. The ecosemiosphere is a grounded semiosphere. A Lotmanian conceptualization of cultural-ecological systems. Biosemiotics 14, 519–530.

Whitehouse, Andrew 2015. Listening to birds in the Anthropocene: the anxious semiotics of sound in a human-dominated world. Environmental Humanities 6, 53-71.


// Prof. Dr. Timo Maran is Professor of Ecosemiotics and Environmental Humanities at the Department of Semiotics, University of Tartu, Estonia. Maran's research interests are theory and applications of ecosemiotics; ecocriticism and Estonian nature writing; and semiotics of biological mimicry. His publications include “Mimicry and Meaning: Semiotics of Biological Mimicry” (2017) and “Ecosemiotics. The Study of Signs in Changing Ecologies” (2020). Maran has also authored several poetry collections.