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Problem-Solving in Mathematics

A Semiotic Perspective for Educators and Teachers

Marcel Danesi

Problem-solving in mathematics is seen by many students as a struggle. Since the capacity to count and understand basic arithmetical concepts (adding, taking away, etc.) is innate and emerges effortlessly in childhood, why does this negative perception and fear of problem-solving exist? This book counteracts this perception by providing a semiotic analysis of problem-solving and, from this analysis, constructing a pedagogical framework for teaching problem-solving that is consistent with the psychology of how humans learn to use signs and symbols. It is based on an experimental math course designed to impart fluency in problem-solving through semiotic training. The positive results of that course inspired the writing of this book.
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Marcel Danesi

Perhaps the oldest and most intriguing conundrum of all is the question: What is the mind? In the last decade an interdisciplinary approach, known as cognitive science, has emerged to study the mind with the ideas and methods forged by artificial intelligence researchers. The aim of this book is to suggest ways in which the cognitive science agenda can be shaped more meaningfully according to a view of mind proposed by Giambattista Vico two and a half centuries ago. This view is grounded on the products of imagination. By studying myths, poetry, narrations, etc., the cognitive scientist will discover the creative force behind them.
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The «Dexter Syndrome»

The Serial Killer in Popular Culture

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Marcel Danesi

The serial killer has become an obsession ever since Jack the Ripper became a media sensation, embedding a new and horrifying type of murderer into our cultural consciousness – one who kills darkly and in the dark. All popular media – print, radio, television, and so on – have become absorbed by this new figure. This book traces its diffusion through all media and discusses what this reveals about modern society. Using the Dexter saga of novels and television programs as its basis, the book argues that a «Dexter Syndrome» has emerged whereby we no longer see a difference between real and fictional serial killers. The psychological and social reasons for this are explored by tracing pop culture texts themselves (movies, novels, etc.). Above all else, Dexter’s concept of a «moral code» forms a thematic thread that allows the author to argue that our contemporary moral nihilism has produced the demand for horror and horrific characters like serial killers, who have replaced medieval demons and monsters.
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Cryptographic Crimes

The Use of Cryptography in Real and Fictional Crimes

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Marcel Danesi

This book examines the use of cryptography in both real and fictional crimes—a topic that is rarely broached. It discusses famous crimes, such as that of the Zodiac Killer, that revolve around cryptic messages and current uses of encryption that make solving cases harder and harder. It then draws parallels with the use of cryptography and secret writing in crime fiction, starting with Edgar Allan Poe and Arthur Conan Doyle, claiming that there is an implicit principle in all such writing—namely, that if the cryptogram is deciphered then the crime itself reveals its structure. The general conclusion drawn is that solving crimes is akin to solving cryptograms, as the crime fiction writers suggested. Cases of cryptographic crime, from unsolved cold cases to the Mafia crimes, are discussed and mapped against this basic theoretical assumption. The book concludes by suggesting that by studying cryptographic crimes the key to understanding crime may be revealed.
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Mike Arntfield and Marcel Danesi

This series publishes monographs, anthologies, annotated literary editions, and comparative studies that critically engage the humanities as a locus for the study of criminal offending, criminal investigation, deviance, penology, and deterrence, as well as the epistemology of justice.
We are especially interested in submissions with a strong interdisciplinary orientation and which lie at the crossroads of theory and practice. In other words, this series is foremost concerned with using artistic, literary, and multimedia texts, situations, and other products of the strictly non-investigative world as vehicles for exploring long-standing social and procedural issues of interest to both academia and the general public. By engaging a wide readership encompassing both scholars and practitioners, it is the intent of this series to breathe new life into the humanities and cultural studies, not to further alienate or obfuscate the scholarship done in these disciplines. For this reason, collaborations between authors representing academic institutions and those working in both private and public knowledge sectors, including government and specialized areas of law enforcement, are encouraged to collaborate with respect to this project.

The series will publish studies and anthologies that explore the connection between fictional writing, movies, music, traditional electronic media, the Internet, and other domains of popular culture and how they have influenced the perception of crime and criminality. The synergy that exists between real crime (reality) and imagined criminality as manifesting itself through representations in writing and media is the primary focus of the series.
We also welcome submissions that draw on any number of semiotic, linguistic, and comparative literature traditions, particularly those espousing new approaches to these fields and which allow key concepts to be unpacked within the framework of the criminal justice system, the forensic sciences, or other professions or institutions that serve the public interest.
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The Criminal Humanities

An Introduction

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Edited by Mike Arntfield and Marcel Danesi

This groundbreaking anthology examines the phenomenon of crime and our historical understanding – and misunderstanding – of the criminal mind through the lens of the humanities, unpacking foundational concepts in criminology and criminal investigative analysis through disciplines such as the visual arts, cultural studies, religious studies, and comparative literature. Edited by two key figures in this burgeoning field who are also pre-eminent experts in both forensic semiotics and literary criminology, this book breathes new life into the humanities disciplines by using them as a collective locus for the study of everything from serial homicide, sexual disorders, and police recruiting and corruption to the epistemology of criminal insanity. Using a multidisciplinary framework that traverses myriad pedagogies and invokes a number of methodologies, this anthology boasts chapters written by some of the world’s key scholars working at the crossroads of crime, media, and culture as broadly defined.