Reading Uspenskij: Soviet ‘semiotics of history’ in the West

Taras Boyko


The article explores the reception of Boris Uspenskij’s writings and ideas outside of the Soviet Union, primarily in Western European and North American academic contexts. The present brief overview of Uspenskij’s academic reception covers the translations of his best-known scholarly works [first and foremost “Historia sub specie semioticae” and “Istoriya i semiotika (Vospriyatie vremeni kak semioticheskaya problema)”] into English, French, Spanish, German and other European languages, as well as various references to Uspenskij’s ideas on what nowadays would be categorized as ‘semiotics of history’, or thoughts at least in some way related to the ‘cultural-semiotic approach to history’ of the Tartu-Moscow School of Semiotics.


Boris Uspenskij; semiotics of history; Historia sub specie semioticae; cultural-semiotic approach; the Tartu–Moscow School

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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