Archive for the ‘Jack Solomon’ Category

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Semiotics Begins at Home

posted: 12.4.14 by Jack Solomon

The practice of popular cultural semiotics has much in common with both anthropology and sociology: after all, cultural semiotics, too, analyzes human behavior.  But it is important to point out that there are a number of methodological differences that distinguish the semiotic from the sociological or anthropological approaches, one of which I wish to explain here. [read more]

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Categories: Jack Solomon, Popular Culture, Semiotics
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Ebola: or the Anatomy of a Semiotic Analysis

posted: 10.30.14 by Jack Solomon

A few days ago, a piece of fan mail flooded in.

So OK, it was really an email from a former student hoping that I would address the reaction to the Ebola epidemic.  At first I was reluctant to go anywhere near the topic (for reasons that will emerge presently), but I’ve come to the conclusion that this could be a very good “teaching moment” about semiotic analyses (besides, I can hardly afford to disappoint my few readers here), so here goes. [read more]

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A Digital Canary in the Coal Mine?

posted: 10.16.14 by Jack Solomon

Recently I received a student journalist’s request to comment on a phenomenon that she identified as a decline in traditional dating practices among millennials.  More specifically, she wanted to know what I think about certain “practice dating” groups that are forming to guide young people in how to behave during actual face-to-face dates.  “Why,” she asked me, “is there a growing need for practice dates, and why are millennials finding it harder to communicate face to face?” [read more]

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It Ain’t Over When the Hashtag Sings

posted: 10.2.14 by Jack Solomon

Well, the two-year long campaign is over, the votes have been counted, and the Scots have voted to remain in the United Kingdom. The vote was both decisive, and a bit of a surprise in light of the eve-of-election polls—which predicted a much closer outcome—so close that many who campaigned for independence appear to have been genuinely confident of victory. [read more]

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The Ice Bucket Challenge

posted: 9.18.14 by Jack Solomon

No, I’m not going to post a You-Tube video of myself getting doused in ice water, and, indeed, by the time this posts, the ice bucket challenge will have probably morphed into something else anyway—most likely a series of parodies.  Rather, I wish to submit this latest of virally-initiated fads to a semiotic analysis, seeking what it says about the culture that has so enthusiastically embraced it. [read more]

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A Sign of the Times

posted: 8.14.14 by Jack Solomon

One wouldn’t ordinarily consider an opinion piece by Robert J. Samuelson—The Washington Post‘s top economics columnist—as a candidate for semiotic analysis.  But a recent column of Samuelson’s reveals so much about the current state of American consciousness that it is quite useful for illuminating an important part of the background needed for the construction of any system being constructed for the purpose of cultural analysis. [read more]

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Back to Critical Thinking

posted: 7.31.14 by Jack Solomon

One of the most common demands made upon colleges and universities today is that they must teach “critical thinking.”  As a great believer in the teaching of critical thinking, I feel that it is incumbent upon all of us who teach it to be very clear about just what we think critical thinking is, however.  I have offered my own semiotics-based take on the matter in this blog before and will not repeat it now.  My focus this time will be on the sorts of standardized multiple-choice tests that have been offered on critical thinking for assessment purposes. [read more]

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The Whirled Cup

posted: 7.17.14 by Jack Solomon

With the World Cup standing as the globe’s most prominent popular cultural event of the moment, I think it is appropriate for me to take a cultural semiotic look at it, especially in the wake of all the commentary that has followed Brazil’s rather epic loss to Germany in the semi-finals.  As I write this blog, Holland is playing Argentina in the second semi-final, but since neither the outcome of that game nor the final to follow is of any significance from a semiotic point of view, I will not concern myself here with the ultimate outcome of the games but will focus instead on the non-player reactions to the entire phenomenon. [read more]

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The Beat Goes Off

posted: 7.3.14 by Jack Solomon

I confess to a certain fascination for the Beat generation.  Not because I belonged to it, mind you (I’m getting old but I’m not that old: the Beats belonged to my parents’ generation), but because of their profound influence on America’s cultural revolution, a revolution that continues to roil, and divide, Americans to this day.  In other words, if you want to understand what is happening in our society now, knowing something about the history of the Beats is a good place to start. [read more]

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Girls

posted: 5.22.14 by Jack Solomon

Having just read two large classes worth of student papers whose purpose is to semiotically analyze the HBO hit series Girls, I am learning a great deal about this popular program.  There are many striking things about the show that I could write about, but for the purposes of this brief blog I will choose only one:  the notoriously high level of nudity in Girls [read more]

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