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Eco's Biography & Bibliography



Umberto Eco

Umberto Eco (Italy, 1932) is an eclectic theorist whose work in semiotics has contributed greatly to the development of a philosophy of meaning. A journalist, professor, academic and novelist, Eco has made a study of textual pragmatics and the aesthetics of reception.

Eco's work is intended to be a theorization of general semiotics, the contemporary philosophy of various types of language, spoken, written, scientific and artistic. Eco proposes revising semiotic theory at the most basic level: its conceptual foundations.

Eco's fundamental postulate is that the sign is polyvocal. Since any work is composed of an infinite set of signs, it becomes an open work (Opera aperta, 1962), offering a multiplicity of possible interpretations. The reader of the text must use his/her encyclopedia to actualize the message and yet avoid overinterpreting the textual indices that are present (Interpretation and Overinterpretation, 1992). The model reader (Lector in fabula, 1979) is able to grasp the meaning of the text by discerning the modes of sign production and interpretation (A Theory of Semiotics, 1976 [1975]).

Umberto Eco is a professor at the University of Bologna in Italy ; he is also the president of the International Center for Semiotic and Cognitive Studies .

Selected Bibliography

In Italian

ECO, U., Segno, Milan : ISEDI, 1973.

In English

ECO, U., The Open Work, trans. Anna Cangogni, Cambridg, MA : Harvard University Press, 1989 [1962].
ECO, U., A Theory of Semiotics, Bloomington: Indiana U.P., 1976 [1975] (the complete English translation of Trattato di semiotica generale, Milano: Bompiani, 1975).
ECO, U., The Role of the Reader, Bloomington and London: Indiana U.P. and Hutchinson, 1981 [1979] (includes essays from: Opera aperta, Apocalittici e integrati, Forme del contenuto, Lector in Fabula , Il Superuomo di massa ).
ECO, U., Semiotics and the Philosophy of Language, Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1984.
ECO, U., The Limits of Interpretation, Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1990.
ECO, U., Interpretation and Overinterpretatio, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992.
ECO, U., The Search for the Perfect Language (The Making of Europe), trans. James Fentress, Oxford : Blackwell Publishing, 1995 [1993].
ECO, U., Six Walks in the Fictional Woods, Cambridge, MA : Harvard University Press, 1995 [1994].

In French

ECO, U. (1965) [1962], L'Oeuvre ouverte, Paris: Seuil, 1965 [1962].
ECO, U., La structure absente, Paris: Mercure, 1972 [1968].
ECO, U., La production des signes, Paris: Livre de Poche, (1976) [1975] (a partial translation into French of Trattato di semiotica generale).
ECO, U., De Superman au Surhomme, Paris: Grasset, 1993 [1976].
ECO, U., Lector in fabula, Paris: Grasset, 1985 [1979].
ECO, U., La Guerre du faux, Paris: Grasset, 1985 [1983].
ECO, Umberto, Sémiotique et philosophie du langage, Paris: Presses universitaires de France, (1988) [1984].
ECO, U., Notes sur la sémiotique de la réception, Actes Sémiotiques, Paris, IX, no 81, 1987.
ECO, U., Le signe, Bruxelles: Labor, 1988 (about 40% of Segno (1973) in French translation).
ECO, U., Les limites de l'interprétation, Paris: Grasset, 1992 [1990].
ECO, U., Interprétation et surinterprétation, Paris: Presses universitaires de France, 1995 [1992].
ECO, U., La recherche de la langue parfaite dans la culture européenne, Paris: Seuil, 1994 [1993].
ECO, U., Six promenades dans les bois du roman et ailleurs, Paris: Grasset, 1996 [1994].

Eco's Theories

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