Introduction to Peircean Visual Semiotics: A Visual Rhetoric

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Contemporary culture is as much visual as literary. This book explores an approach to the communicative power of the pictorial and multimodal documents that make up this visual culture, using Peircean semiotics. It develops the enormous theoretical potential of Peirce's theory of signs of signs (semiotics) and the persuasive strategies in which they are employed (visual rhetoric) in a variety of documents. Unlike presentations of semiotics that take the written word as the reference value, this book examines this particular rhetoric using pictorial signs as its prime examples. The visual is not treated as the 'poor relation' to the (written) word. It is therefore possible to isolate more clearly the specific constituent properties of word and image, taking these as the basic material of a wide range of cultural artefacts. It looks at comic strips, conventional photographs, photographic allegory, pictorial metaphor, advertising campaigns and the huge semiotic range exhibited by the category of the 'poster'. This is essential reading for all students of semiotics, introductory and advanced.