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Wordly Wise

The Semiotics of Discourse in Dante’s "Commedia</I>

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Raffaele de Benedictis

In Wordly Wise: The Semiotics of Discourse in Dante’s Commedia, Raffaele De Benedictis proposes a new critical method in the study of the Divine Comedy and Dante’s minor works. It systematically and comprehensively addresses the discursive aspect of Dante’s works and focuses mainly on the reader, who, along with the author and the text, contributes to the making of discursive paths and discourse-generating functions through the act of reading. This work allows the reader to become acquainted with how meaning is generated and whether it is granted legitimacy in the text. Also, in a system of signification, sign function and sign production are not limited to the properties of the mind but are the result of working interactively with the properties of discourse, which provide directionality for the reader’s enunciation(s) in action.

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Glossary of Theoretical Terms and Expressions 229

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glossary of theoretical terms and expressions Abduction: “is the process of forming explanatory hypothes[e]s. It is the only logical operation which introduces any new idea.” (Peirce, CP, V.171) It is a form of “Insight” because it conforms to the class of operations to which “perceptive judgment” belongs. Actant: is the author and/ or the reader of the poetic text insofar as they are both engaged in the actualization of language. The Greimasian term “act- ant”, based on his “actantial model” refers to one of the concurring compo- nents, which helps to analyze the real or thematized action of a text. In this work it mostly corresponds to the actual reader. Category: is a “model of organized semantic universe” (Umberto Eco, Semiotics and the Philosophy of language, 106). It is the taxonomy and the pecu- liar way in which we organize the world around us by means of innumerable forms of segmentation reflecting such categories. Content level/content plane: is that which refers to the content of a sign and requires correlation with the expression level/expression plane. Such a process is called codification of the two levels or bi-planar characteristic of the sign. In semiotics, the content or the object of signification must always be taken as a cultural unit, and not as an actual referent of the sign. Taken as an actual referent of the sign, it would produce a referential fallacy. De Benedict_Glossary.indd 229 22/11/11 10:28 AM 230 wordly wise Creative abduction: is the act by...

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