Study of Religions Departmental Seminar Series

Speaker: Dr Massimo Leone (University of Turin)

Chair: Dr Tatsuma Padoan

The seminar will take place on Monday, March 27th at 3pm in CACSSS Seminar Room (O’Rahilly Building)

All are very welcome!

The Meaning of Meaning in the Semiotics of Religion (171kB)



Semiotics is a secular discipline. It stems from a scientific project. It is not ontology. It is even less metaphysics or theology. To most if not to all semioticians, the suggestion that the postulates of the discipline might share ontological presuppositions with religious thought would sound threatening. The point of the lecture is not to “convert” semiotics. Neither is it to investigate the deep influence of religious thought on the founders of the discipline (starting from Peirce). The point is, rather, to indicate that the relation between religion and language can be investigated also at a more abstract level of ambition. At this level, the linguistics of religious language, as well as the semiotics of religious signification, must yield to a philosophy of religious language. What is the purpose of such a branch of philosophy? Mainly, to speculate about religious presuppositions implicit in the linguistic and semiotic understanding of meaning; to explore the origins of the “ideologies of meaning” and to place such origins in relation to the religious dimension.



Massimo Leone is Associate Professor of Semiotics, Cultural Semiotics, and Visual Semiotics at the University of Turin, and is Director of the MA Program in Communication Studies. His work deals with visual embodiments of religion and law. He is particularly interested in comparative research about the visual imaginary of equity and justice. He graduated in Communication Studies from the University of Siena, and holds a DEA in History and Semiotics of Texts and Documents from Paris VII, an MPhil in Word and Image Studies from Trinity College Dublin, a PhD in Religious Studies from the Sorbonne, and a PhD in Art History from the University of Fribourg (CH). His doctoral dissertations focused on representations of religious conversion in early-modern hagiography and iconography. 


Massimo Leone has single-authored seven books, Religious Conversion and Identity: The Semiotic Analysis of Texts (London and New York: Routledge, 2004); Saints and Signs: A Semiotic Reading of Conversion in Early Modern Catholicism (Berlin and New York: Walter de Gruyter, 2010), Sémiotique de l'âme, 3 vols (Berlin et al.: Presses Académiques Francophones, 2012), Annunciazioni: Percorsi di semiotica della religione (Rome: Aracne, 2014), Spiritualità digitale: Il senso religioso nell'era della smaterializzazione (Milan: Mimesis, 2014), Sémiotique du fondamentalisme : Messages, rhétorique, force persuasive (Paris: l'Harmattan, 2014; Arabic translation in 2015), Signatim: Profili di semiotica della cultura (Rome: Aracne, 2015); he has edited more than twenty collective volumes, and published more than three hundred articles in semiotics, cultural studies, and visual studies.

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