Call for Papers – Punctum: Semiotic Approaches to Big Data Visualization

Special issue of Punctum. International Journal of Semiotics 8 (1)

Semiotic Approaches to Big Data Visualization

Guest editors: Maria Giulia Dondero, Pierluigi Basso Fossali, Lia Yoka

With a few exceptions-focusing on journalism (Compagno 2017), on works of art (Chartier, Pulizzotto, Chartrand & Meunier 2019, Dondero 2020), on deep fake videos (Leone 2021, Dondero 2021) and on data epistemology (Bachimont 2020)-semiotics has been late to approach big data. In contrast to information and communication studies, that have been quick to recognize the big data revolution in medical, biological, political, urban, and journalistic practices, and while digital humanities and digital art history continue to offer crucial insight with their analysis of large collections of artworks and heritage objects, semiotics has yet to live up to the big data challenge.

This tardiness is due to several factors: (i) the prevalence of the structuralist tradition’s textualism, which encourages sophisticated analyses of either single objects of study, such as the production of a single author, or limited corpora of works; (ii) the belief that general semiotic theory is applicable to any cultural object, and the consequent assumption that there is no need to adapt semiotic models to new media or practices; (iii) the habit of working with objects endowed with motivated meaning (myths, paintings, novels, political discourse, etc.), whereas an archive of big data (a non-text in the traditional sense) is not considered a meaningful object, but rather a device that opens up to practices of meaning, meaning that is yet to be located, inferred and invested. Last, but not least, one of the most important reasons of the defiance of semiotics towards current big data phenomena is (iv) its outright rejection of a theory of communication understood as a mathematical theory of information (Shannon & Weaver 1949), and, consequently, its distrust towards all theories which take signs and signals as interchangeable concepts.


Deadline for Abstracts: December 31, 2021

Notice of Acceptance of the Abstract: January 15, 2022

Deadline for Submission of Full Papers: May 15, 2022

Peer Review Due: June 30, 2022

Final Revised Papers Due: July 31, 2022

Publication Date: Summer 2022

Call for papers here

Fédération Romane de Sémiotique
Romance Federation of Semiotics
Federazione Romanza di Semiotica
Federação Românica de Semiótica