Virtual Symposia

Earth, Fire, Water: Matter and Meaning in Rituals

An international symposium organized by the Toronto Semiotic Circle To honor the memory of Japanese semiotician Masao Yamaguchi (1932-2013)

Rituals have been the object of intense scrutiny by anthropologists, sociologists, and psychologists. Other disciplines such as theology, philosophy, and history also have discussed the forms and functions of rituals as universals of human behavior. Comparative examinations of the diversity of rituals in cultures and religions across space and time show that rituals always involve stereotypic actions and gestures which are very often performed in relation to, or by means of elemental forms of matter, usually mediated by specialized artifacts. The purpose of this symposium is to focus, from a semiotic point of view, on the use of earth, fire, and water in a variety of rituals and to explore the ways in which these terrestrial elements are endowed with specific spiritual meanings through prescribed manipulations in specified contexts.

Information: Paul Bouissac

List of Speakers

Dragos Gheorghiu is a professor at the Doctoral School, National University of Arts, Bucharest, RO.

Peter Jackson is a professor at Stockholm University, Sweden.

Giulio Silano is a professor at St. Michael College, University of Toronto.


Enam Huque is a member of OISE.

Andrew Houlson is a doctor in the field of environmental engineering.

Paul Bouissac is Professor Emeritus at Victoria College, University of Toronto.

Gary Genosko is a professor at the Ontario Institute of Technology.


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