Archive for the ‘Jack Solomon’ Category

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Entrepreneurs in Toy Land

posted: 5.9.14 by Jack Solomon

A brief news item in the Chronicle of Higher Education reports that 89%  of those business leaders polled in a Northeastern University survey believe that “colleges should increase teaching about entrepreneurship”.  Given the fact that such corporate thinking has come to dominate current discourse on higher education and its purposes, it is worthy of a semiotic analysis, and I will sketch one out accordingly here. [read more]

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The Colbert Report

posted: 4.24.14 by Jack Solomon

How do you know when an entertainment event is a cultural signifier?

Easy: it’s when Rush Limbaugh asserts that “it has just declared war on the heartland of America.”

That, anyway, is what Limbaugh has been widely reported as saying upon word that CBS has hired Stephen Colbert to replace Dave Letterman on CBS’s Late Show [read more]

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Semiotics vs. Semiology

posted: 4.10.14 by Jack Solomon

The theme of this blog, as well as Signs of Life in the U.S.A., is, of course, the practice of the semiotic analysis of popular culture in the composition classroom and in any course devoted to popular cultural study.  But it is worth noting that my choice of the word “semiotics,” rather than “semiology,” is grounded in a meaningful distinction.  [read more]

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How Not To Do Popular Cultural Semiotics

posted: 3.27.14 by Jack Solomon

Back in December 2013 I wrote a complete Bits blog entry on the then just released Disney animated film “Frozen.”  Briefly touching upon the fact that, like the Marvel superhero Thor, here was another popular cultural phenomenon featuring archetypally  “white” characters—look at those gigantic blue eyes, those tiny pointed noses, the long ash blonde hair of one of the princesses (the other is a redhead) and the blonde mountain man .  .  . you get the picture—I focused on the continuing phenomenon of a bourgeois culture producing feudal popular art: you know, princesses in their kingdoms, princes, that sort of thing. [read more]

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The Popular Art of Dystopia

posted: 3.14.14 by Jack Solomon

I’ve recently had occasion to participate in some classroom discussions of two famous dystopian stories: Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery” and Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games trilogy.  Well of course, how could one not discuss Jackson’s classic in a contemporary literature class without invoking Collins’ work, and, conversely, how could one not discuss Collins without citing Jackson’s chilling predecessor? [read more]

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Balancing Mythologies

posted: 2.27.14 by Jack Solomon

In a recent classroom discussion concerning the extraordinary attraction of digital social networking, and the possible significance of that attraction, one of my students (among many astute observations made throughout the class) noted that there was something about social networking that suggested that people felt that their personal experience wasn’t valid somehow unless it could be shared on Instagram, Snapchat, Pinstagram, etc.  [read more]

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Of Puppies and Paradoxes

posted: 2.13.14 by Jack Solomon

In my last blog I discussed the difference between a formalist semiotic analysis and cultural one.  In this blog I would like to make that discussion more concrete by looking at one of the most popular ads broadcast during Super Bowl XLVIII.  Yup, “Puppy Love.” [read more]

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The Goal of Cultural Semiotics

posted: 1.30.14 by Jack Solomon

As I begin a new semester of teaching popular cultural semiotics, I’d like to succinctly sum up here—both for any of my students who may drop in to read this and, of course, for anyone else who may be interested—what the goal of cultural semiotics is.  The first thing to note is the qualifier “cultural”:  that is, while cultural semiotics most certainly includes semiotics, as such, there can be a crucial difference between what a cultural-semiotic analysis is looking for and what other sorts of things semiotic analyses do. [read more]

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A Digital Dilemma

posted: 12.19.13 by Jack Solomon

While I realize that the problem is not really a brand new one, I have only recently become aware that there is a lot of very good popular cultural analysis available on the Internet in video form.  Well, what’s wrong with that?  After all, the Internet is an absolutely indispensible resource for popular cultural semiotics, a treasure trove of up-to-date primary and secondary source material that I now wonder how I ever did without in my own writing and teaching.  So how could there possibly be a problem here? [read more]

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Anniversaries

posted: 12.5.13 by Jack Solomon

On December 8 it will be the 33’d anniversary of the death of John Lennon.  In this year of historic anniversaries (the Gettysburg Address’s and the Battle’s 150th; the 50th year since the assassination of President John F. Kennedy), Lennon’s will not loom so large, and that is as it should be.  There are vaster things to think about. [read more]

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