Scott Simpkins (1958-2010)

Scott Simpkins

I worked with Scott as an academic colleague since the mid-90s in my capacity as editor of The Semiotic Review of Books. Scott was an engaged member of the editorial board and his participation made the journal much stronger and forward-looking. He was a generous colleague who mentored new graduates and assisted them in realizing their professional ambitions, in some instances bringing their fine work to my attention, and enlisting their spirited energy in the name of our mutual publishing project.  He not only brought to the journal his own sense of what was important to have reviewed, and recommended not only potential but willing reviewers, but had tremendous insight into the latest trends in the field. What I appreciated most about his work was his strong sense of the intellectual community that grows up around a collective project like an academic journal, and what it takes to sustain the energy required to keep the issues coming out. This is all the more remarkable because in many instances editorial board members never or rarely have a chance to meet one another in person. His Semiotic Institute Online course on “Critical Semiotics” investigated the implications of a semiosis focused on intensity, radical openness, play, surprise and suddenness. For me this was one of the clearest indications that post-semiotic inquiry was much needed and formed in its own right a growing body of critical literature. We shared a keen interest in many of what counted for him as key texts from Barthes, Derrida, Lyotard and Deleuze and Guattari. His resistance to and suspicion about pronouncements of a post-semiotics was a model of critical probity to the extent that it set sceptics like myself on a search for semiotic exotica, which in my case turned out to be a-signifying semiotics and desemioticization, both excavated from within obscure corners of the field.

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