|ENCYCLOPEDIA OF SEMIOTICS|
Oxford University Press
Editor in Chief:
List of entries:
Oxford University Press, New York 1998
"One of the ways modern linguitics has connected with other disciplines is through its ties with semiotics. Various theories of the sign -- in modern times stemming from the work of Saussure and Peirce -- have provided frameworks from which bridges can be established between linguistics and such disciplines as communications, literary criticism, biology, anthropology, and information theory. With the Encyclopedia of Semiotics, Paul Bouissac has provided an up-to-date reference work of concepts in both semiotics and cultural studies. The 300 entries, the work of about 100 contributors, explicate technical concepts and place familiar topics (such as music, sport and history) in the context of work on sign theory. The encyclopedia is nicely laid out, well-indexed, and includes a number of useful figures. [...] The encyclopedia includes much of interest in the areas of biology, sociology and sociobiology, phenomenology and structuralism, criticism, and information theory. Chinese and Indian sign theories are touched upon as well; there is a long entry on Buddhism focusing on Buddhist philosophy of language, and entries on Daoism, the Yi Jing, the Mandala, Mantra, and the grammarian Bhartrhari. And [it] provides separate discussions of postcolonialism, postmodernism, postsemiotics and poststruturalism which help to tease these apart.
Language. Vol.75, No 3 (1999)
"Semiotics represents one of the main attempts -- perhaps the most enduring one -- at conceiving a transdisciplinary framework through which interfaces can be constructed between distinct domains of inquiry. Other endeavors, such as the unified science movement of the 1930s or cybernetics and general systems theory in the 1950s and 1960s, met with only limited success. By contrast, semiotics remains a credible blueprint for bridging the gaps between disciplines and across cultures, most likely because of its own intellectual diversity and pluridisciplinary history, as well as its remarkable capacity for critical reflexivity. Cultural theory, one of its most powerful offshoots, similarly transcends traditional boundaries between academic and political domains, sexual and epistemological spheres, and economic and symbolic orders. [...] Semiotics and its outgrowths are not a closed chapter in the history of ideas. The dynamics of this fundamental, overarching inquiry keps upsetting the epistemological landscape inherited from two centuries of disciplinary marshaling. It opens channels of communication among faculties and traditions, builds pressures on artificial partitions, connects levels, constructs interfaces, and awakens the mind to serial, lateral, and holistic thinking.
[...] It is this complex, dynamic situation that the present volume endeavors to picture and document. An encyclopedia of semiotics and cultural theory cannot be a mere inventory of concluded biographies and completed theories. To be true to its object, it must reflect not only the achievements but also the uncertainties and anxieties of its practitioners. A full century of theorizing on signs, structures, signification, representation, communication, and meaning has led to hypotheses conceived within, or in dialogue with, the main intellectual paradigms of the century -- phenomenology, psychoanalysis, Marxism, structuralism, evolutionism and information theory among them. The questions raised, debated, and still unsolved, continue to engage the mind and motivate reflection and research. The reader will discover that most of the articles in this volume are problem-oriented rather than dogmatic. [...]
The guiding principles for the elaboration of this encyclopedia have been to be comprehensive, problem-oriented and user-friendly. The three hundred articles forming this work cover a wide range of topics and present a balanced view of the various theoretical and methodological approaches to the study of signs, communication and culture that have been produced throughout the twentieth century. Forays into non-Western philosophical and linguistic traditions, such as Chinese theories of representation, Buddhist semiotics, and Indian semantics, add a global dimension to this work. [...] The contributors have endeavored to indicate in the conclusion of their articles the problematic nature of some notions or assumptions that are at the core of the theoretical concepts and methods considered. More generally, they have pointed to still unexplored directions of research or thought so as to reflect closely the dynamic nature of today’s critical semiotics and cultural theory, and to engage the reader’s reflection and creativity. Each article is followed by a carefully chosen bibliography."
(Excerpts from the preface).
Bouissac has created a comprehensive, well-written, and understandable reference work that allows a wide variety of students and scholars to access current semiotic theory and research. Each signed entry is well documented and contains bibliographic entries for further inquiry. Excellent coverage of well-known and lesser-known theorists [...] [A]n extensive index make[s] this volume another fine example of the publisher’s commitment to scholarship."
Kevin M. Roddy
Library Journal (November 1, 1998)