NASS IX – Tartu, Estonia, 2015


The paradoxical co-presence of predictability and unpredictability is a fundamental aspect of the dynamics of the semiotic world. Abduction, habit, explosion, (artistic) modelling, code, interaction, meaning-making, signification, innovation, uncertainty, change, order and disorder, entropy, translation, interpretation – there are numerous concepts that reflect this tension in different kinds of semiotic systems and processes.
Predictability and unpredictability are processual notions that have been used for the description and analysis of different forms of creativity and freedom on both the psychological and the social level. They were also key concepts for Juri Lotman. He considered every act of communication and understanding as involving elements of unpredictability, and every dialogue as being not only about language use, but involving language creation as well. From the perspective of cultural dynamics, every revolution, but also every new fact or event within culture and society is an explosion – a tension between predictability and unpredictability. Underlying these conceptions is an understanding of predictability and unpredictability as it pertains to the different models we use for conceiving and changing reality: scientific as well as artistic. In order to sustain itself, every society needs both.

Tartu Summer School 2015 is four-day event taking place in Tartu, Estonia, that will explore the functioning of semiotic mechanisms that mediate order and change in cultural, social, and biological systems from both theoretical and empirical perspectives. (Un-)predictability is also of utmost practical value in cognition – for simpler forms of life, for human everyday life, for scientific inquiry, and in practically oriented applications of semiotics.

See also the conference webpage (under University of Tartu´s Department of Semiotics).

The preliminary list of proposed sessions that will be updated according to paper proposals:
» (Un-)predictability, probability and their relatives in semiotic analyses
» Intersemiosis: (un)predictability versus (un)translatability
» HABIT as regularity and irregularity: Peirce – beyond chance
» Cognitive semiotics meets biosemiotics / Biosemiotics meets cognitive semiotics
» Political semiotics: conceptualizing contingency
» The dialectics of predictable/unpredictable in cultural semiotic productions
» The study of future umwelten: umwelt futurology
» Interpretations of history of semiotics
» … and sessions on other forms and aspects of semiotic (un-)predictability

The Nordic Association for Semiotic Studies (NASS) has allocated funds for two measures in relation to NASS IX:

  • Graduate student grants: The participation of up to 10 graduate students will be supported financially by NASS, with 150 Euro each. Nominees for student grants will be selected shortly after abstract acceptance, and grant winners will be notified directly. Practicalities concerning transfer of the sum of 150 Euro will be discussed with each successful grant winner.
  • Graduate student prize: A prize will be awarded for the best graduate student presentation at the conference. The prize winner will receive a symbolic premium along with a letter from NASS acknowledging the participant’s merit.