Tartu Summer School of Semiotics 

13–16 August 2021, Sammuli, Estonia

Semiotic horizons: time, memory and future(s)



What is the link between the past, the present and the future? This ubiquitous question is not new to semiotics, but still has the potential to make us rethink its development as a discipline born ‘ahead’ of its own epoch. What is more, it makes us envision a semiotics-driven anthropocene where sciences and humanities could ethically go hand in hand. In the words of John Deely, “we need to have an awareness of the trajectory of semiotic development […] against the backdrop of philosophical modernity” (2010: 75).

    In this spirit, the Tartu Summer School of Semiotics aims to resume the dialogue between different branches of semiotics, and with other disciplines, as a community that studies change in a diversity of ways. Namely, through James’ specious present; Peirce’s temporal causation; Saussure’s  synchrony and diachrony; Uexküll’s perceptual and developmental times; Wittgenstein’s memory-time and information-time; Bakhtin’s chronotopes; Lotman’s unpredictability; Grusin’s premediation, or Fraser’s biotemporality.

    In tune with the tradition of Kääriku Summer Schools of Semiotics — originally held by the Tartu-Moscow School of Semiotics — we believe it is essential to continue finding inspiration in the above by means of ‘retrospective transformation’ as Juri Lotman would put it: “consciousness appears to be carried backwards to the moment which preceded the moment of explosion, retrospectively interpreting all that has occurred” (2009[1992]: 16). 

    The Summer School inquires into various ways humans and other animals make sense of the passage of time, by organising round-tables and workshops, and welcoming presentations to answer the following suggested questions:

  1. What is the complementarity between different ways of modelling time (e.g. as a linear continuum or as a cycle)?
  2. Where does the relation between individual and collective types of memory and prospection lie? What is the complementarity between remembering and foretelling?
  3. In what ways can semiotics drive the future(s) (e.g. in education, research, culture-nature changes, and public policies)?
  4. To what extent do semiotic theories, models and tools have a predictive capacity?
  5. What might be the possible future directions of semiotics and the humanities?

The perspectives or topics for answering these questions include, but are not limited to: 

  • Semiotics of culture, Biosemiotics, Sociosemiotics

  • Semioethics

  • Cognitive semiotics

  • Logic

  • Semiotics of space and time

  • Futures Studies

  • Phenomenology

  • History and historiography

  • Linguistics

  • Art and media

  • Digital humanities

  • Communication

  • Transmediality


About abstracts and formats:


We welcome both 20 minute presentations, as well as more unconventional formats (10-15 minutes) that would provoke thoughts by introducing works and ideas in progress. 300-600 words abstracts should be submitted by June 25, 2021.


Send submissions to:




Deely, John 2010. Realism and Epistemology. In: Cobley, Paul (Ed.). The Routledge Companion to Semiotics. USA and Canada: Routledge.

Lotman, Juri 2009 [1992]. Culture and Explosion. Berlin and New York: De Gruyter Mouton.