Semiotics of the Uncanny

Description: This course introduces the elements of semiotic theory starting from its two major traditions: Saussure's semiology and Peirce's semiotics. The course includes the application of theory in the study of different aspects of human culture concerning social interaction and artwork production. Emphasis is given to the analysis of sign systems related to the expression of uncanniness. For this purpose the course makes reference to concepts as expressed in philosophy, anthropology, psychology and media theory.

Keywords: uncanny valley, gothic, horror, terror, science fiction, gore, sublime, grand guignol, macabre, grotesque.

Objectives (hour):

  1. "An informal intro": on semiotic theory and the concept of the uncanny.
  2. "Could you please stop biting my neck dear?": on the sublime, gothic and monsters.
  3. "Oh yes doctor, let's talk about splatter...": on anatomy and human enhancement.
  4. "Almost human... that is too creepy!", on androids and technophobia.
  5. "I think I might be a mutant after all", on biopunk and biotechnology.
  6. "The truth is out where?", on extraterrestrials and aliens in a broad sense.

Prerequisites/advisable prior knowledge: n/a.

Evaluation feedback: individual written essay theme "name your monster" where each student will be evaluated with main criteria the organization of the information presented and the capacity of argumentation.

Recommended reading list:
Dracula, Bram Stoker
Frankenstein, Mary Shelley
The Picture of Dorian Gray, Oscar Wilde
The Metamorphosis, Frank Kafka
Coraline, Neil Gaiman
I am Legend, Richard Matheson
The Uncanny, Sigmund Freud

Instructor A: Dalila Honorato

Guest speaker of this course on May 30th is the interdisciplinary artist Professor Kathy High who will be presenting on Blood Wars.
Instructor B: Kathy High

Guest speaker of this course on May 31st is the Professor Polona Tratnik.
Instructor C: Polona Tratnik

Guest speakers of this course on June 1st are Graeme Manson and Cosima Herter.
Instructor D: Graeme Manson

Instructor E: Cosima Herter


Back to Courses