Universität KonstanzExzellenzcluster „Kulturelle Grundlagen von Integration“

Integration and Explosion

Perspectives on Yuri Lotman’s cultural semiotics

International Conference

October 23-25, 2008
University of Konstanz

Where for a long time the observation of social order centered around the concept of integration, Yuri Lotman’s cultural semiotics places its emphasis on the interdependence between both regular and irregular circumstances and stable and instable sign processes, and on the relation, rich in both social and semiotic tension, between center and periphery.

Disorderliness, anomie, and disintegration are phenomena usually only granted deviant status—a status outside normative borders—in descriptions of social circumstances. Within Lotman’s cultural theory, they emerge as key moments of social dynamics and cultural semiosis with the help of concepts such as entropy, explosion, and periphery. This involves, on the one hand, an overcoming of the hierarchical conceptualization of integration and disintegration as, respectively, norm and deviation; and, on the other hand, a focusing on indeterminacy as a central factor in cultural dynamics.

portrait Jurij Lotman
(c) soulsick/flickr.com. Some rights reserved.

The conference’s aim is to illuminate cultural semiotics from a perspective that is both comparative and oriented towards the history of science; and to examine the suitability of the theses and concepts at work here for current developments in cultural theory. In this respect, the following thematic focal points stand in the foreground:

  1. Culture and power
  2. Discursive asymmetry
  3. “Explosion,” “entropy,” etc.: the metaphorics of cultural semiosis
  4. The poetics of culture


PD Dr. Susi K. Frank

Dr. Cornelia Ruhe

Alexander Schmitz


Conference Room V 1001


Susi K. Frank, Cornelia Ruhe und Alexander Schmitz (Hg.): Explosion und Peripherie.

Jurij Lotmans Semiotik der kulturellen Dynamik revisited.

Bielefeld: transcript, 2012.


Jurij M. Lotman: Kultur und Explosion

Herausgegeben und mit einem Nachwort von Susi K. Frank, Cornelia Ruhe und Alexander Schmitz. Aus dem Russischen von Dorothea Trottenberg.

Berlin: Suhrkamp, 2010.


Jurij M. Lotman: Die Innenwelt des Denkens

Eine semiotische Theorie der Kultur

Herausgegeben und mit einem Nachwort von Susi K. Frank, Cornelia Ruhe und Alexander Schmitz. Aus dem Russischen von Gabriele Leupold und Olga Radetzkaja.

Berlin: Suhrkamp, 2010.