The Fugue of the Five Senses: Semiotics of the Shifting Sensorium

Thessaloniki, Greece, 14-16 October 2016

Organized by the Hellenic Semiotic Society
and the School of Journalism & Mass Communications
of Aristotle University of Thessaloniki


Western thought has privileged sight above all other senses, placing hearing a distant second and touch, taste and smell among the ‘lower senses’. This hierarchy of the senses was accepted even by Simmel, whose belief that ‘senses build a thousand bridges between human beings’ forms the basic premise of the ‘sociology of senses’ he single-handedly founded. The ocularcentric bias, pervading modern thought, has affected semiotics itself, which proved reluctant to follow up Claude Levi-Strauss’s ‘science of the concrete’ and explore the intricate ‘fugue of the five senses’ characterizing the modern sensory regime. The distinctiveness of the latter was compellingly grasped by Marshall McLuhan who highlighted the ways electronic media demolish the hegemony of vision by fostering a kind of tribal, multi-sensorial sensibility. Since the 1990s, the ‘lower senses’ have attracted the systematic attention of cultural history, sociology, anthropology and philosophy, challenging the simultaneous rise of the Visual Studies paradigm with their insistence on the need to move beyond the hegemony of vision.

The Conference aims to contribute to the investigation and understanding of our current shifting sensorium, by encouraging the examination of the ways contemporary digital technologies, multi-modal texts, multi-medial and multi-sensorial semiosis – in fields as varied as art, museums, popular culture, architecture, urban life, learning, education, social interaction practices and emotional economies both in and out of the internet – disrupt and transform the traditional hierarchy of senses. It also seeks to advance our understanding of how this happens through the sweeping revalidation of the hitherto marginalized senses of touch, smell and taste, as well as the proliferation of multi-sensory and synesthetic regimes of communication and experience.

The Conference invites proposals for individual papers (15-20 minutes long) or panels (incl. 3-4 individual papers) that relate to the following main themes:

  1. The Science of the Concrete: theoretical investigations and elaborations on the semiotics of the senses; sensory semiotics at the crossroad of cognitive, cultural and social semiotics.
  2. Beyond the Hegemony of Vision: the semiotics of the ‘lower senses’ (touch, smell, taste) and of the sensory modalities (proprioception, thermoception, nociception, mechanoreception etc).
  3. The Social Life of the Senses: forms of multi-sensorial and multi-modal social interactions, emotional economies and embodied subjectivity in the age of the shifting sensorium.
  4. Digital Synesthesias: world-making and sense-making in digitally based multi-medial and multi-sensorial semiosis, arts and environments.

Offical languages of the Conference are Greek, English and French. All relevant information about how to submit your proposal is listed below:

1.1. Panels 
Panels provide an opportunity to examine a single topic in depth from multiple perspectives, providing a coherent set of papers for discussion. Panels consist of either three or four papers (20’ or 15’ respectively). Organizers of panels should submit:
a) Abstract for the proposed panel topic as well as for each individual paper, and
b) Extended summaries for each individual paper.
The organizers must name the chairs on the proposal form.
Please note that every participant must register individually if the panel is accepted.
Duration: The duration of each panel is scheduled for 90 minutes: 15-20 minutes for each presentation (depending on the number of presentations), and 20-30 minutes for discussion with the audience.
Preparing the proposal
a) For the panel as a whole the following should be submitted:

  • An abstract of 250 words that should inform about the objectives of the panel and its scientific importance.
  • Title of the panel and title of each individual paper (three to four papers per panel), the names and the affiliation of each author, the name of the organizer/chair.

b) For each panel: an abstract of 250 words that should the object, the problematics, the methodology, the aims and the significance of the study.

1.2 Individual Paper presentations
The time allocated to each paper is appr. 20 minutes, while the final 30 minute of each 90-minute session is reserved for discussion with the audience.
Preparing the proposal: an abstract of 250 words that should include the object, the problematics, the methodology, the aims and the significance of the study.


The abstract of each type of presentation should be in the following format:
(Times New Roman,
size 12, bold, center alignment)

Authors & Affiliations
(Times New Roman, size 12, italics, center alignment)

The abstract of 250 words should not have individual sections or paragraphs and should be written using font Times New Roman, size 12, interval 1.5. 2.5 cm margin left and right, full alignment.



3.1 How to submit
The proposals will be submitted by electronic means only. After preparing your abstract in the required template, please visit the conference website and select the type of work you wish to submit: individual paper or panel. Please fill in all fields that appear on the submission form and upload your template. Upon submission of your proposal you will receive a message confirming receipt.

3.2 Number of proposals by each author 
Each author may participate in the conference as a presenter in a total of two presentations of any type. Organizing a panel or chairing a session are excluded.


All types of proposals will be selected on the basis of their blind evaluation by two independent reviewers.

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