The most common brief definitions of semiotics are 'the study of signs' and 'the science of signs'. These definitions are inadequate for several reasons. Semiotics is not simply a sub-discipline of'signs'. It is not a branch of a more general'science of signs'. It is not a'science' in the sense that physics or biology is a science. Semiotics is more like linguistics than it is like the fine arts, or semiotics is the science of the fine arts.
An important feature of semiotics is that it involves both traditional literary analysis (as in linguistics and literary criticism) and the study of media and cultural productions. It has developed as a unique and independent discipline. In one sense, semiotics is a form of literary criticism. Seeman argues that semiotics relates to literary criticism in that it has become clear that the term'sign' covers any kind of symbol, including'signs' that are not linguistic (e.g. images, simulations, and signs of things, etc.).
Semiotics is also concerned with the relation between signs and their concrete historical and cultural context. Further, semiotics is concerned with the relation between signs and the signifieds of which they are not instances. The sign's relation to the signified is based on the fact that the sign is signifier and the signified is signified. Certain concrete things and situations are signified by certain signs. To know what a particular sign signifies is to know the particular signified that it refers to.
To emphasise that semiotics is a broad term, Greimas (1980) referred to a'semiotic discourse'. This does not refer to any particular language, but to a field of study that includes language (as one of its elements).
The most important element of genre theory is the notion of 'intertextuality' - the ability of other texts to provide additional meanings to a given text. However, semiotics and genre theory are often presented as alternative analyses of the same phenomenon, as if they were competing models of text interpretation. However, despite their similarities, genres and codes are distinct from semiotic codes. For example, a genre does not have to be a corpus of texts - a genre might be an oral-formal narrative, or the genre of a particular piece of music. Semiotics is a predominantly visual theory, which analyses signs in terms of their visual nature, whereas genre theory focuses on the role of the other senses. Semiotics studies the role of the eye, whereas genre theory studies the role of the other senses, primarily the role of the ear.
Within semiotics, genre theory is not the only theoretical approach to textual analysis. The study of intertextuality is not just an abstract theoretical pursuit. Intertextuality is at the heart of the analysis of many forms of media text, such as jazz, song lyrics and even written texts. Examples of intertextual analysis include studies of the intertextuality of a popular song (Witte 1987), the 'abstract' poetry of the modernist avant-garde (Fiske 1987), and of the intertextuality of the 'incest' poem (Watts 1994). Genre theory and semiotics are not mutually exclusive. Semiotics has its roots in art theory, and was a major part of the study of music from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries (see Neale 1980). 827ec27edc