Tag Archives: Semiotics


The relative size of the text on this sign is a semiotic code. In other words it shapes our understanding of the message. The phrase “And Keeping Costs Down” has greater visual presence– and thus signifying power– than “helping to keep people healthier”.

Other codes include the color blue and the image of the woman. In terms of the latter, note that the model pictured is older and she has a pony tail, a sign connoting youthfulness and action. She’s apparently next to a weight rack, which by the principle of association “belongs” to her. So “helping to keep people healthier” (not healthy, healthier) has been relegated to the realm of personal exercise. “Healthier-ness” is asserted as the responsibility of the individual (“lifestyle”) rather than taking the form of collective, active intervention on the part of a health care system.


Algeria Unveiled/ Battle of Algiers (HUM415)

The pdf version of Frantz Fanon’s “Algeria Unveiled” posted on the course information page was incomplete. Here is a proper pdf:


The “bombing sequences” we watched in class on Monday:

I’d like us to hold onto the concept of the Floating Signifier, which I think will come in handy as we move along. Here is how Daniel Chandler defines it in his book Semiotics for Beginners:

An ’empty’ or ‘floating signifier’ is variously defined as a signifier with a vague, highly variable, unspecifiable or non-existent signified. Such signifiers mean different things to different people: they may stand for many or even any signifieds; they may mean whatever their interpreters want them to mean. In such a state of radical disconnection between signifier and signified, ‘a sign only means that it means’ (Goldman & Papson 1994, 50).