Of Cigarettes, High Heels, And Other Interesting Things: An Introduction to Semiotics

Paperback | August 8, 2008

byMarcel Danesi

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Why is it that certain members of the human species routinely put their survival at risk by smoking cigarettes? Why is it that some females make walking a struggle for themselves by donning high heel footwear? This book attempts to answer such questions. Such risky behaviors are obviously shaped by forces other than the instincts. Indeed, for no manifest genetic reason, humanity is constantly searching for a purpose to its existence; this search has led it to invent myths, art, rituals, languages, mathematics, science, and other truly remarkable things that set it apart from all other species. In this volume author Marcel Danesi shows us that the discipline that endeavors to understand the human meaning quest is known as semiotics. Danesi demonstrates how semiotics unravels the meanings of signs that make up the system of everyday life that we call a culture or a society. This book will engender in the reader the same kind of questioning and inquisitive frame of mind with which a semiotician approaches the subject matter of meaning. Basic semiotic ideas and analytical techniques are introduced via a seemingly fictional yet very telling scene, one which reveals a lot about the human need for meaning. The scene is a fashionable modern-day restaurant, and the fictional actions that occur allow Danesi to provide the semiotic version of the human drama in concrete terms. As Danesi argues, perhaps the greatest skill possessed by Homo Sapiens, literally the knowing animal, is the ability to know itself. This book reveals how semiotics helps to sharpen that ability considerably.

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Why is it that certain members of the human species routinely put their survival at risk by smoking cigarettes? Why is it that some females make walking a struggle for themselves by donning high heel footwear? This book attempts to answer such questions. Such risky behaviors are obviously shaped by forces other than the instincts. Inde...

Marcel Danesi is Professor and Director of the Program in Semiotics and Communication Theory at the University of Toronto. He is the author of many books, including Increase Your Puzzle and Cool: The Signs and Meanings of Adolescence.

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:248 pages, 8.5 × 5.51 × 0.02 inPublished:August 8, 2008Publisher:Palgrave Macmillan USLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0230605230

ISBN - 13:9780230605237

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Table of Contents

Preface * Cigarettes and High Heels: What Do They Really Mean? * What Does It Mean? How Humans Represent the World * Make-Up: Why Do We Put It On? * Tell Me About Yourself: What Is Language? * Kisses Sweeter Than Wine: Metaphor and the Making of Meaning * Now, Tell Me About Yourself: Why Do We Tell Stories? * At Arm’s Length: The Meanings of Spaces * What a Beautiful Ring: The Meanings of Clothes and Objects * Art Is Indistinguishable From Life: The Artistic Nature of the Human Species * There’s More to Perfume Than Just Smell: Advertising, Pop Culture, and Television * Notes

Editorial Reviews

"It's been years since I lit up a cigarette, but I found this book enlightening. Long life to the Enlightenment!"—Umberto Eco