Full course for one semester. This course is a critical introduction to anthropological analysis of sign systems. We begin with a close examination of the power and limits of the basic idea of anthropological structuralism, as fashioned by Lévi-Strauss in an attempted adaptation of breakthroughs in phonology to the study of cultural process at large: the idea that the significance of a sign rests in its positional value within a system of other elements. We then examine some alternative or complementary approaches to signs, which are all broadly “pragmatic” in the sense that they focus more squarely on problems in the relation between sign systems and sign use. Prerequisite: Anthropology 211 or 311 or Linguistics 311. Conference. Not offered 2006-07.
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