College Of Arts and Sciences | The Semiotics of Advertising
E103 | 9553 | Fowler, G.


Semiotics is the science of the sign: anything which functions in
communication. In this course we apply semiotic methods to the study
of advertising, which must communicate compellingly in a very short
time or in a limited space. As a result, advertising is a perfect
laboratory for the semiotic methodology, because it must use signs
very effectively. In fact, the finest advertising approaches poetry
in its artistic subtlety and power. Semiotics is an extremely
flexible tool which is useful in a wide range of academic fields.

Readings are drawn primarily from an introductory textbook on
semiotics, while most of the illustrative material used in lecture
comes from video and print advertising. A web page serves as an
archive of all the ads viewed in the course lectures. Weekly
assignments require students to answer questions based on the
readings and to write brief annotations of ads found by each
individual student. There is a midterm and a final exam, and students
will write a term paper, or course project, exploring semiotic themes
in advertising texts.