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Unfolding the Semiotic Web in Urban Discourse

In Scientific Cooperation with Daina Teters


Edited By Zdzislaw Wasik

The main focus of this volume is on urbanity as a discursive way of human life in the city. Discourse is specified here in terms of semiotic codes and processes that link city dwellers as communicating selves into interpersonal and intersubjective collectivities when they create and interpret similar meanings embodied in material bearers. Accordingly, the unfolding of the semiotic web is understood, firstly, as detecting and evaluating the growth and manifestation of the sphere of meaning-bearers or a sequence of meaning-bearing events, and secondly, as identifying and explaining the constituents and aspects of discourse in the light of signs and/or sign-processes that aggregate individual participants of communication into discursive linkages on a lower level and discursive communities – on a higher level of social grouping. Some contributions deal with the discursive properties of human individuals in urban environments, and some others are devoted either to the meta-discourses on the city or discourses in the city.


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Ioana Boghian: The semiotics of urban space and architecture in literary discourse of the Victorian period 195


Ioana Boghian “VASILE ALECSANDRI” UNIVERSITY OF BACĂU The semiotics of urban space and architecture in literary discourse of the Victorian period Approaching space and architecture from a semiotic point of view gives us the chance to investigate the way in which such signs as, for ex- ample, the Victorian garden, yards and gates act as intermediary spaces between the public space of the town/city and the private space of the house in terms of Ali Madanipour’s distinctions (2003). The use of semi- otics for interpreting the architectural signs in novels written by the Brontë sisters, Charlotte Brontë (1816–1855) and Emily Jane Brontë (1818–1848), as well as by Charles Dickens (1812–1870) aims at detect- ing the meanings hidden between the lines of a ‘concrete, tangible archi- tectural discourse’, meanings that can be defined as the more ‘abstract discourse of power’ with all the types of relationships implied. 1. Space, architecture, discourse and semiotics This introductory, theoretical section of the paper will deal with the concepts of space, architecture, architectural discourse and with the way in which these notions can be approached semiotically. Its second part, in turn, will illustrate our perspective by semiotic tools applied to literary fiction of the Victorian period. The first distinction we would like to draw is that between the con- cepts of space and place. The term space (cf. Hornby 1975: 657) is de- fined as an area, extent, expanse, lapse of time, while place (cf. Hornby 1975: 812) represents an open...

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