Saturday, October 23, 2010

Here's some more new stuff on the web. Biosemiotic ideas (if not by name) moving up the agenda:

Natural Constructivism: sense perception in the human Umwelt – Beau Lotto: Optical illusions show how we see

BBC Horizon ‘Is Seeing Believing?’

Plant Intelligence


Monday, August 30, 2010

SI 'Semiotics of nature' published

Guest editors
: Riin Magnus, Nelly Mäekivi and Morten Tønnessen

Dear readers,

We are delighted to announce that the journal Hortus Semioticus has now published a special issue on the semiotics of nature. All together with 7 papers, a foreword, an interview, Meditationes Semioticae and 2 overview articles, this issue is almost exclusively in English. The papers of contributing MA and PhD students are all original papers written within a scientific framework which encapsuls the topics of meaning, value, communication, signification, representation, and cognition in and of nature.
1) Nelly Mäekivi, Riin Magnus and Morten Tønnessen: Editors foreword to the Special Issue Semiotics of Nature
2) Remo Gramigna: Augustine’s legacy for the history of zoosemiotics
3) John Haglund and Johan Blomberg: The meaning-sharing network
4) Silver Rattasepp: The idea of the extended organism in the 20th century history of ideas
5) Sara Cannizzaro: On form, function and meaning: working out the foundations of biosemiotics
6) Svitlana Biedarieva: Reflections in the Umwelten
7) Arlene Tucker: A metaphor is a metaphor
8) Patrick Masius: What are elephants doing in a Nazi concentration camp? The meaning of nature in the human catastrophe
9) Riin Magnus and Morten Tønnessen: The bio-translator. Interview with professor in biosemiotics Kalevi Kull (with his complete biosemiotic bibliography)
10) Meditationes Semioticae – this time by Kaie Kotov: Do you mind? Does it matter? Semiotics as a science of noosphere
11) Ülevaade: Acta Semiotica Estica VII

We hope that for our readers and contributors, these papers will encourage even more interest in the field, and open yet new horizons.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Bonnie Bassler TED video - How Bacteria Communicate

The contents of this video won't be news to anyone reading this blog; nonetheless, it's good to watch, and also interesting to see biosemiotic ideas spreading in places like

Here's the url:

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Updated CFP: Zoosemiotics and Animal Representations

The organizing team of the international conference 'Zoosemiotics and Animal Representations', to be arranged in Tartu April 4-8, 2011 - cf. previous post - has issued an updated CFP. The deadline for abstract submission is September 15th. To submit a proposal, interested scholars should e-mail an abstract (300-600 words) and a bio-note (less than 100 words) to the address The abstract and bio-note should be sent together in one file (.doc or .rtf) attached to the e-mail.
The news fall in two categories - plenary speakers and publication venues. We are glad to announce the plenary speakers of the conference: Colin Allen (Professor of History and Philosophy of Science at Indiana University, USA), Jesper Hoffmeyer (Professor emeritus, Biological Institute, University of Copenhagen, Denmark), Graham Huggan (Professor of Commonwealth and Postcolonial Literatures at University of Leeds, UK) and David Rothenberg (Professor of Philosophy and Music at the New Jersey Institute of Technology, USA).
There are two publications planned for the articles based on conference presentations: a volume in Rodopi´s Nature, Culture and Literature series and a special issue on zoosemiotics in journal Semiotica.
For up-to-date information, see the conference webpage.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Call for papers: Zoosemiotics and animal representations


Conference: Zoosemiotics and animal representations
Place: Tartu (Estonia)
Time: April 4-8, 2011
Deadline for abstracts: September 15, 2010

Conference webpage here

- Theory and methodology of zoosemiotics
- History of zoosemiotics, the legacy of Thomas A. Sebeok
- Practical applications of zoosemiotics (e.g. zoosemiotics and conservation)
- Zoosemiotics’ relation to relevant fields such as cognitive ethology, biosemiotics, ecocriticism etc.
- Animal experience (semiotics and phenomenology)
- Semiotic perspectives on animals in literature, art, films etc. (e.g. seeing man in animals, and the animal in men).
- Semiotics of human–animal relationships: historical, social and communicative perspectives (e.g. the semiotics of zoos, of wildlife management, and of domesticated animals).


Morten Tønnessen
Part of the organizing team

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Consultation on Biolinguistics

At January 14, 2010, Marcello Barbieri mailed this message to a group of scholars in biosemiotics:
"We have all been critical of Chomsky’s ideas, to a lesser or greater extent, but we cannot ignore them, especially because they are the basis of the new research field of Biolinguistics which has been developed in parallel with Biosemiotics. By a strange coincidence, the journals that bear their names, Biolinguistics and Biosemiotics, have even started regular publication together, in 2008.
The crucial point is that both fields regard language as a natural phenomenon and claim a scientific approach to its study. Two different philosophies can remain entrenched forever into antagonistic positions, but two scientific disciplines are bound to look for dialogue, testing, confrontation and, ideally, for a synthesis of their ideas. Such a process, however, requires not only individual contributions but also collective discussions, and that is precisely the purpose of this collective letter.
I am sending in attachment the draft of a paper [here, C.E.] that proposes a synthesis of the two fields and I invite each of you to express your opinion. If you want to comment on the paper I shall be grateful, of course, but you can also ignore it and just express your ideas on the issue in question. The purpose of this consultation is to get a realistic picture of the feelings that exist today in Biosemiotics in respect to Biolinguistics, and I hope therefore that you will accept to comment on this point. Many thanks in advance for your attention and for your contribution."
Now Barbieri has compiled a file with the ensuing discussion, and asked me to post it here. You can download the the file here.
Barbieri kindly mailed me a version of his revised manuscipt, "On the Origin of Language - A synthesis of Biolinguistics and Biosemiotics", of February 11, 2010, that you can download here. Noam Chomsky and members of the Biosemiotic community are acknowledge.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Call for papers: Special issue of Hortus Semioticus

See our call for papers below (plus here). Note that graduate students and young scholars are particularly encouraged to submit. As my fellow guest editor Riin Magnus writes in an email, we hope seniors in the field can help by spreading the cfp to potentially interested students and young professionals. We would like to express...

...that we would thereby also like to form and strengthen the network of graduate students working in the semiotics of nature or similar fields.


Hortus Semioticus
Guest editors: Riin Magnus, Nelly Mäekivi and Morten Tønnessen

Hortus Semioticus is an online academic journal of semiotics - the study of signs and sign processes. In Tartu, Estonia, where the student journal is based, nature has long accompanied culture as a topic for semiotic inquiry (cf. the fields known as biosemiotics, ecosemiotics, and zoosemiotics). The driving force behind the journal is curiosity and the joy of inquiry. Around the summer of 2010 the journal will publish a special issue on the semiotics of nature (meaning living nature, rather than physical nature). We are inviting papers on the topics of meaning, value, communication, signification, representation, and cognition in and of nature (ranging from the cellular level to the global scene). We encourage originality within a scientific framework which emphazises the semiotic aspects of the life processes alluded to above. Not least, we strongly welcome submissions from other fields (besides, beyond or beneath semiotics). Graduate students and young scholars are particularly encouraged to submit. Contributions (5-20 pages) should be written in English or Estonian and sent to the guest editors by May 1st, 2010. Prior to that we're expecting an abstract (100-200 words) plus 3-5 keywords by April 1 2010. Please find further instructions here. Email addresses of the guest editors: (Riin Magnus), (Nelly Mäekivi) and (Morten Tønnessen)

Thursday, January 7, 2010

More special issues

The online Tartu journal Hortus Semioticus will later this year publish a special issue on various forms of semiotics of nature (biosemiotics, ecosemiotics, zoosemiotics). Guest editors: Nelly Mäekivi, Riin Magnus and myself. The issue will feature an English language interview with Kalevi Kull.

About to appear right now is the Sign Systems Studies special issue on zoosemiotics (guest editors: Dario Martinelli and Otto Lehto).

Update on special issue 'Semiotics of perception'

The special issue of Biosemiotics 'Semiotics of perception' will appear as no. 2, volume 3, in August (guest editors: Kati Lindström and myself).

After a few changes have been made, the authors now include:
David Abram
Kalevi Kull
Kati Lindström
Timo Maran
Renata Sõukand & Raivo Kalle
Morten Tønnessen
Wendy Wheeler
Ane Faugstad Aarø

Abram's contribution is a chapter ("The discourse of the birds") from his forthcoming book Becoming animal: An earthly cosmology, to be published August 24th.