Social Semiotics As Praxis: Text, Social Meaning Making, and Nabokov's Ada (Theory and History of Literature)

Thibault, Paul J.

The past 15 years have witnessed a renewed interest in the theoretical and epistemological issues which underpin the institutionalized study of literary texts. In particular, the poststructuralist analysis has challenged many of the institutional, ethical, and political practices in which this enterprise is conducted. In thius book Thibault re-focuses on the text to build a unifying discourse for understanding the processes by which human meaning is formulated. He aims to renew the semiotic project in ways which not only develop new theoretical and methodological resources for studying and social meaning, but also redefine the language in which these issues are being discussed. The author's approach is an extension of the linguistic and semiotic theories originally formulated by Michael Halliday and others in the London-Sydney school of systemic-functional linguistics. Halliday's theory is drawn on in order to develop a detailed form of textual analysis which is sensitive to the social contexts of specific human activities - social semiotics at work. Nabokov's "Ada" and "Lolita" bridge the gap between the analysis of verbal art and the basic enquiry into how meaning is socially constructed. This, then, leads into questions concerned with the praxis of the theorists of social semiotics, intertextuality, the social semiotic construction of the subject, the analysis of hegemonic forms of social meaning construction, and the importance of maintaining the same theoreticla terms when addressing the question of stability and change in social semiotics.

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