The institution of semiotics in Estonia

Kalevi Kull, Silvi Salupere, Peeter Torop, Mihhail Lotman


The article gives a historical overview of the institutional development of semiotics in Estonia during two centuries, and describes briefly its current status. The key characteristics of semiotics in Estonia include: (1) seminal role of two world-level classics of semiotics from the University of Tartu, Juri Lotman and Jakob von Uexküll; (2) the impact of Tartu–Moscow school of semiotics, with a series of summer schools in Kääriku in 1960s and the establishment of semiotic study of culture; (3) the publication of the international journal Sign Systems Studies, since 1964; (4) the development of biosemiotics, notably together with colleagues from Copenhagen; (5) teaching semiotics as a major in bachelor, master, and doctoral programs in the University of Tartu, since 1994; (6) a plurality of institutions — in addition to the Department of Semiotics in the University of Tartu, several supporting semiotic institutions have been established since 1990s; and (7) a wide scope of research in various branches of semiotics, including theoretical studies, empirical studies, and applied semiotics projects on governmental and other request.

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SIGN SYSTEMS STUDIES. ISSN 1406-4243 (print), 1736-7409 (online). E-mail: Postal address: Sign Systems Studies, Dept. of Semiotics, University of Tartu, Jakobi St. 2, 51014 Tartu, Estonia