An Application of Peirce’s Semiotic Theory to the Analysis of Linguistic Features of Images in Non-Commercial Advertisements

Presented by Sura Adnan Alani, Social Sciences, University of New England, Armidale

Thursday 5 May 2016 | 12 – 1 pm

Oorala Lecture Theatre (Bldg E22)

Images in commercial and non-commercial advertisements have been studied from various perspectives. Some of the early studies on this topic used the Semiotic approach of De Saussure (e.g. Williamson 1978; Leiss, Kline & Jhally 1992) while more recent ones have adopted the perspectives of Kress and Van Leeuwen (e.g. Emmison, 2000; Van Leeuwen, 2011) to understand the underlying meanings of images in both commercial and non-commercial advertisements.

This paper reports on some of the findings of my recently completed doctoral project. The study investigated visuals in non-commercial advertisements in Iraq post-2003. The aim was to understand how the use of symbols in non-commercial advertisements followed political and social changes in Iraq. I applied Peirce’s semiotic theory as the main analytical framework.

The major finding of the study that I discuss in this seminar is that Peirce’s theory can, in fact, help us understand some of the linguistic features of visuals that have escaped the attention of previous work in this area. Grammar of visuals is one such linguistic element that is illuminated by the application of Peirce’s theory to the analysis of visuals in non-commercial advertisements.

Launch seminar recording