Semiotics, Structuralism, and Television

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Contemporary television criticism derives much of its vocabulary from semiotics and structuralism. This chapter will introduce the basic terminology of these methods, offer a case study of structuralist methods applied to children’s television, and introduce some of the concepts the so-called post-structuralists have used to critique and expand upon semiotics and structuralism. The late Paddy Whannel used to joke, “Semiotics tells us things we already know in a language we will never understand.” Learning the vocabulary of semiotics is certainly one of its most trying aspects. This vocabulary makes it possible, however, to identify and describe what makes TV distinctive as a communication medium, as well as how it relies on other sign systems to communicate. Both questions are vital to the practice of television criticism, and these terms will be encountered in a broad range of critical methods from psychoanalysis to cultural studies.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationChannels of Discourse, Reassembled
Subtitle of host publicationTelevision and Contemporary Criticism
EditorsRobert C. Allen
Place of PublicationLondon
Number of pages29
ISBN (Electronic)9780203991329
ISBN (Print)9780415080583, 9780415080590
Publication statusPublished - 6 Aug 1992


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