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The Humanities Conference 2003

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Metalanguage in the New Humanities: From Rhetoric to an Integrated Science of Communication

Jose Sanjines.

In response to the question of the role of the humanities in the new world order, I would like to consider an aspect of the history of the humanities. Assuming that we are thinking about the future of Western humanities, one would most likely place their origin in ancient Greece.
What I want to consider in my presentation is what happened after the death of rhetoric and what will be the characteristics and function of the metalanguage needed to refer to the humanities in the new world order.
Thanks to advances in the systematic study of humanities various communicative systems, we have now come to understand the notions of language and art in a much broader sense.
Our conception of art has also expanded. We no longer automatically think of visual art when we refer to art today. Theater is an artistic text, and so is literature, dance, or cinema. And with these extended and more integrated notions of language and art there comes a corresponding need for a broader metalanguage.
These are all questions that involve the production of meaning in society. The rhetoricians of antiquity posed to themselves some of these questions at the level of discourse, but with the evolution of cultural, economic and signifying practices, these questions must be fundamentally reconsidered. And for that we need a more sophisticated metalanguage. It seems to me that semiotics, the field that studies the production of meaning in sign systems, is gradually evolving to fill in the void left by the ancient practice of rhetoric, but it will have to take some further risks.
My presentation will elaborate on some of the questions that I have outlined in this proposal.


Jose Sanjines  (United States)
Chair, Department of Foreign Languages
Foreign Languages
Coastal Carolina University, South Carolina USA

Jose Sanjines is Chair of the Department of Foreign Languages at Coastal Carolina University, USA. He received his Ph.D, in 1990 from Syracuse University, NY, in Spanish Culture and Literature. He has published on the areas of Latin American Literature and Film, Semiotics of Cinema, Intersemiosis, Semitics of Visual Art, Semiotics of Culture, Semiotics of Music, and Rhetoric, in journals such as Semiotica, The American Journal of Semiotics, Sign Systems Studies, The Interdisciplinary Jorunal for Germanic Linguistics and Semiotic Analysis, and Point of Contact. He has published a book on the short narrative of Julio Cortazar: Paseos en el horizonte.

  • Metalanguage
  • Rhetoric
  • Communication
  • Semiotics
  • Intersemiosis
  • Semiotics of Culture

(30 min Conference Paper, English)