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Roland Barthes was born on
November 12, 1915, in
Cherbourg, France. Educated at
the Sorbonne, he was a literary
philosopher and helped establish
structuralism as one of the
leading intellectual movements
of the 20th century. His work—
which often pitted him against
more traditional French
advances in the areas of
semiotics, anthropology and
post-structuralism. He died in
Definition: Semiotics is the study of signs and sign processes
He frequently interrogated specific cultural materials in
order to expose how bourgeois (middle class values)
society asserted its values through them.
For example, the portrayal of wine in French society as a
robust and healthy habit is a bourgeois ideal that is
contradicted by certain realities (i.e., that wine can be
unhealthy and inebriating).
He found semiotics, the study of signs, useful in these
interrogations. Barthes explained that these bourgeois
cultural myths were "second-order signs," or "connotations."
Media critics use the semiotics theory to deconstruct what
the video looks like visually and then what it conotates to
To eat steak rare... represents both a nature and a
Through the mythology of Einstein, the world
blissfully regained the image of knowledge
reduced to a formula.
There is only one way left to escape the alienation
of present day society: to retreat ahead of it.
I call the discourse of power any discourse that
engenders blame, hence guilt, in its recipient.
Myth is neither a lie nor a confession: it is an
The photographic image ... is a message without a
Semantics: Relation between signs and the
things to which they refer; their denotata, or
Syntactics: Relations among signs in formal
Pragmatics: Relation between signs and
Denotation: what you can see visually
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