Workshop 1

22. 6. 2022, The Faculty of Humanities

Jamin Pelkey (Toronto Metropolitan University)

In-Between Inhuman Extremes: Focal Images of the Domination-Alienation Nexus/Mezi nelidskými extrémy: Ohniskové obrazy ve vztahu dominace a zcizení

Vin Diesel’s ‘Xander Cage’ of the blockbuster movie franchise xXx and Rami Malek’s ‘Elliot Anderson’ of the award-winning streaming serial Mr. Robot are on opposite poles of a inhuman continuum. They are also mutually defining pairs that serve to undermine vital ultra-human archetypes of their own (Xander Cage as the anti-James Bond; Elliot Anderson as the anti-Clark Kent). Paying close attention to these interrelations, their sources and consequences, provides layers of insight into the contemporary human predicament and its deep evolutionary roots. Serial promotional posters for blockbuster movie franchises and seasonal streaming programs provide ‘Focal Images’ (following Váša) of the human condition by coalescing in memory as general symptoms (or ‘Indexical Legisigns’), pointing not only to the polysemiotic narratives they advertise but also to the psychosocial realities and developmental processes that inform their analogous interpretants across a given population. In this talk, I juxtapose the two sets of promotional posters in question to serve as a kind of focal parallax for understanding the embodied dynamics of chiastic extremes and reversals that inform our experience of the domination-alienation nexus uniting phenomena as diverse as hyper-modernism, late capitalism, extreme individualism, and nominalist epistemology. Drawing on insights from C. S. Peirce, A. J. Greimas, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Maxine Sheets-Johnstone, and others, I argue that the dehumanizing plight in question traces back to experiential paradoxes of full-body threat display that are eventually manifest in perverse dynamics that poet Wallace Stevens sums up as “the vital, fatal, arrogant, dominant X”.


Workshop 2


14.12. 2022, The Faculty of Humanities


Francesco Bellucci (University of Bologna) and Frederik Stjernfelt (University of Aarhus)

The Deduction of the Dicisign

A joint reading and commentary of a section of R 478, the first version that Peirce wrote of a Syllabus for his Lowell Lectures in the autumn of 1903. In this section Peirce set forth an argument designed to prove, or better to deduce, that propositions (here for the first time re-named “dicisigns” or “dicent sign”), provisionally defined as those sign that are capable of truth value, are necessarily compounded or complex entities. The deduction’s conclusion is that a dicisign is a structured sign in which two parts are connected. In this joint reading and commentary, we reconstruct Peirce’s argument, outline its connections to other aspects of his semiotic theory, and explore some important development of the theory that is based on its conclusions.


Workshop 3

15. 12. 2022, the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague

Two distinct talks on a common theme: Peirce’s Semiotics and the Arts

Francesco Bellucci: “Legisigns and Their Variants”

In his celebrated Languages of Art (1968) Nelson Goodman said that any theory of art must do some preliminary work into the theory of symbols or notational systems. A crucial element in Goodman’s theory of notation is the distinction between a “character” and the “instance” of a character. This, as Goodman recognizes, is the distinction made by Charles S. Peirce between a “type” sign and a “token” sign. In this talk, I will reconstruct the steps by means of which Peirce arrived at his type/token distinction in the context of his classification of signs.


Frederik Stjernfelt: “Propositions and Artworks”

Much work has been done using aspects of Peirce’s semiotics in the analysis of artworks in literature, painting, film, etc., oftentimes using the icon-index-symbol distinction. Rarely, however, has the central role of propositions, or Dicisigns, in Peirce been acknowledged in the art context. Here, I shall address the role of propositions in artworks along two axes: 1) the role of Ingardian “quasi-propositions” in fictional artworks; 2) the deliberate modernist aesthetic strategy of weakening or blurring propositional structure of the artwork – which may coincidentally have contributed to the failing recognition of artistic propositions more generally.