[lbo-talk] Semiotics for Beginners by Daniel Chandler

Charles Brown cb31450 at gmail.com
Fri Mar 28 08:40:35 PDT 2014



Daniel Chandler

>From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Daniel Chandler (born 1952) is a British visual semiotician based (since 2001) at the department of Theatre, Film and Television Studies at Aberystwyth University (where he has taught since 1989). His best-known publication is Semiotics: The Basics (Routledge: 1st edn 2002, 2nd edn 2007), which is frequently used as a basis for University courses in semiotics,[1][2][3] and the online version 'Semiotics for Beginners' (online since 1995).[4] He has a particular interest in the visual semiotics of gender and advertising.

Trained as a schoolteacher at Magdalene College, Cambridge, Chandler began his career teaching English in middle and high school classrooms in the 1970s and 1980s. He adopted a progressive, constructivist philosophy of education at a time when microcomputers were first introduced into the classroom. Resisting the hyped image of computing in education as a boon to instructional productivity,[5][6][7][8] Chandler recognized the computer as a tool for learning, but he rejected a prevailing objectivism that considered data as information, and information as knowledge. He held a constructivist view that data is translated into information by human beings, not computers, and humans negotiate the meaning of information by means of dialog and discussion (Chandler, 1990a). The computer, for Chandler, was not a teaching machine, but a medium of expression for young learners.[9] His early adoption of computers in the classroom led to the publication of several authored and edited texts related to computing in education.[10] He left the classroom in 1981 and set up an independent consultancy, notably serving as a design consultant for Acornsoft on the development of educational software[11] for use by the BBC.[12]

In 1989, Chandler returned to academia, joining the Education department at Aberystwyth University. His initial role as a lecturer in educational technology soon shifted to that of a lecturer in media theory, and in 2001 he moved to the department of Theatre, Film, and Television Studies as a lecturer in Media and Communication Studies.

His (1993) dissertation on 'The Experience of Writing' focused on the phenomenology of writing. That work led to the (1995) text, 'The Act of Writing'[13] which he posted freely on the World Wide Web. Where the tendency of most authors had been to withhold their work from online access for multiple reasons,[14] Chandler was never so inhibited. Self publishing 'The Act of Writing' was one of multiple experiments that he launched in an exploration of the Web's possibilities as a medium for teaching. In 1994 he began placing lecture materials online for use by his own students. This practice of open access proved successful and rewarding. As the richness of this material evolved in the ensuing months, and as the population of Internet users exploded in the mid 1990s, Chandler's site quickly attracted an international audience of students, scholars, and mediaphiles hungry for rewarding academic content.[15][16][17][18][19][20] The MCS Web[21] offered tangible content that went beyond the typical outlines, bibliographies and promotional material hosted on most academic and commercial sites of the time. The Media and Communications Studies site established itself as a premier online academic resource for theoretical and educational material in the fields of Rhetoric, Communication Studies, Semiotics, Media, and Contemporary Philosophy.

Chandler's teaching has straddled the spectrum of communication studies, though a significant focus of his work has centered on contemporary philosophies of communication, and specifically on Semiotics. Chandler's initial frustration as a lecturer was the severe lack of lucid and cogent introductory texts on the subject (Chandler, 2002, p. xv). This led him to prepare a series of materials on semiotics, written in a language and style that would be comprehensible to his own undergraduate students. He placed these lectures on the World Wide Web to augment the already rich set of openly accessible materials that he had prepared for his students. Over time, this set of lectures took the form of an online book, Semiotics for Beginners.[22] The text attracted the attention of numerous other professors in search of materials to augment their own lectures. Most notably, Chandler credits the philosopher A. C. Grayling for encouraging him to submit his online work for print publication. The first edition of Semiotics: the Basics[23] was published by Routledge in 2002. Routledge released a second edition[24] in 2007.


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