Semiotics of World Literature

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This exegetical survey of world literature from a Saussurean point of view contributes to the application of general semiotics to the study of literature by presenting a critical interpretation of selected passages in the history of world literature. The premise is that paradigmatic and syntagmatic considerations help to define the values and themes of the episteme of a literary period. Although a diachronic approach predominates in traditional studies of world literature with an emphasis on the Western tradition, this work takes a global approach that recognizes the importance of diversity and multicultural studies in fostering a mature semiotics of literature that includes Asian and African literary products as well as European and American texts. Thus, it presents an effort to synthesize and interpret selected literary texts from the preliterate pictorial representations of a cultural episteme to the contemporary representations about postmodern dilemmas such as the AIDS epidemic.

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