Semiotics is the science of communication and sign systems, in short, of the ways people understand phenomena and organize them mentally, and of the ways in which they devise means for transmitting that understanding and for sharing it with others. Although natural and artificial languages are therefore central to semiotics, its field covers all non-verbal signalling and extends to domains whose communicative dimension is perceived only unconsciously or subliminally. Knowledge, meaning, intention and action are thus fundamental concepts in the semiotic investigation of phenomena.
Research into sign systems began with the ancient Greeks, and in the course of Western history many writers and scholars have studied the various processes by means of which signification is produced. In the modern world the major areas which have been the object of semiotic study are literature, environmental and social structures, visual arts, ritual, myth, and gesture. Consequently, semiotics is very much an interdisciplinary science as germane to Anthropology as it is to English, to Philosophy as it is to Art History, to sport as it is to media studies.
The four courses in semiotics offered by Victoria College are intended to be the core of a program of study that will combine courses of both a theoretical and applied nature. Anthropology, Literary Studies, Philosophy and Psychology relate most obviously to the core courses; the minor program that follows has been drawn up with that fact in mind.
Enrolment in the program is limited to students with a minimum CGPA of 3.0 in at least four full courses or their equivalent. Achievement of this minimum CGPA does not guarantee enrolment in the program.
The Toronto Semiotic Circle and The ISISSS
The study of communication and sign systems has been an important part of Victoria’s intellectual and teaching life for almost twenty-five years. Many of the College’s members, fellows and associates are actively pursuing research and producing publications in these areas. Since 1973 Victoria has been home to the Toronto Semiotic Circle, an interdisciplinary group whose monthly meetings are open to all interested students. In June 1980 the International Summer Institute for Semiotic and Structural Studies was founded at Victoria. It has been convened at the College for a number of years.