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Thursday, 24 February 2011

Presentation in doctoral seminar scheduled

My presentation in the doctoral seminar of the Department of Semiotics has been scheduled for Tuesday April 12 (14.15-16.00). The topic will be my whole doctoral work as reflected in my thesis/dissertation, which is, according to my plans, to be submitted May 23rd.

Chronicle on agriculture reprinted

My chronicle on the development of Norwegian agriculture, and rural perceptions thereof, has now been published online by Kulturverk.

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Brief report from the Sydney workshop

I am currently in Katoomba, the Blue Mountains, where I will spend a week writing, after having spendt two days in neighbouring Blackheath already.

The workshop The history, philosophy and future of ethology took place at the campus of Macquarie University in Sydney Feb. 19-21. My presentation was given Feb. 19 at approximately 2 pm, and I chaired a session Feb. 21 in the afternoon.

I have had the pleasure to meet and spend time with a number of interesting scholars, including the other international guests (Dominique Lestel, Jeffrey Bussolini, Gary Steiner, Brett Buchanan), the organizer Matthew Chrulew and Gisela Kaplan, to mention but one of the other speakers. Actually, the 15 or so talks were pretty much all good - which is not common at interdisciplinary conferences and similar events. I usually have to bring a book.

There were up to 30 people attending, speakers included.

Chronicle on agriculture to be reprinted twice

I have received two requests to reprint my chronicle "Landet som grodde igjen", both of which I have accepted.

Bonde og Småbruker - the member magazine of Norsk Bonde- og Småbrukarlag [Norwegian Farmers and Smallholders Union]. Circulation c7.000. Will appear in no. 3/2011, March 12th.

Kulturverk - an recently established online magazine.

MIA bulletin no. 3

The third Minding Animals International pre-conference bulletin was distributed 5 days ago, and included details about the Oslo event.
14[-15] October, 2011: Oslo, Norway
Host: Department of Criminology and Sociology of Law, University of Oslo
Event title: Shared Worlds
Venue: Domus Nova, Oslo (St. Olavs plass 5 - room to be advised)
Time and Date: 14-15 October, 2011
Organised by: Minding Animals International in association with Nordic Human Animal Studies
Affiliated institutions: Equine Research Network (EqRN) and Department of Semiotics at the University of Tartu by ESF grant 7790 Dynamical Zoosemiotics and Animal Representations
Organising team: Rune Ellefsen, Rhys Evans, Morten Tønnessen
The program will include plenary speeches, a roundtable on the shared worlds of humans and horses, a roundtable of the shared worlds of humans and wolves, and a position note workshop on the relation between activism and academia
Conference language: English and Norwegian

Thursday, 17 February 2011

The Semiotics of Animal Representations: Rodopi confirms

Upon arrival in Sydney I received the message that the series editors of Rodopi's Nature, Culture and Literature (Hubert van den Berg (Adam Mickiewicz University of Poznan), Axel Goodbody (University of Bath) and Marcel Wissenburg (Radboud University Nijmegen)) have accepted our book proposal The Semiotics of Animal Representations (edited by Kadri Tüür and myself) for inclusion in the book series.

We have written to the contributors that "[i]n order to facilitate the cohesion and intertextuality of the book, we would like to propose that all contributors in addition [to full-length papers, due May 31st] send us a draft of their papers (including reference list) by March 25th." These will be distributed to the other contributors.

Below is the content list of the book.

Table of contents

1. Kadri Tüür (University of Tartu – Estonia) and Morten Tønnessen (University of Tartu – Estonia)


2. Wendy Wheeler (London Metropolitan University – UK)

Captivation and ecstasy: Animal immersion and human enchantment

3. Onno Oerlemans (Hamilton College – USA)

The semiotics of bird poems

4. W. John Coletta (University of Wisconsin—Stevens Point – USA)

Evolutionary bodies of knowledge; Or, the evolutionary phenomenology of J. J. Audubon, Georges Bataille, Theodore Roethke, and Octavia Butler

5. Louise Westling (University of Oregon – USA)

The zoosemiotics of sheep herding with dogs

6. Maki Eguchi (University of Tsukuba – Japan)

Representation of sheep in modern Japanese literature: From Natsume Sōseki to Murakami Haruki

7. Adam Dodd (University of Oslo – Norway)

Entomological rhetoric and the fabrication of the insect world

8. Kadri Tüür (University of Tartu – Estonia)

Like a fish out of water: Literary representations of fish

9. Sandra Grötsch (University of Oulu – Finland)

Animal representation and attitudes of humans toward non-humans in fantasy literature

10. Taija Kaarlenkaski (University of Eastern Finland – Finland)

Communicating with the cow: Human-animal interaction in written narratives

11. Christos Lynteris (University of St. Andrews – UK)

Speaking marmots, deaf hunters: Animal-human semiotic breakdown as the cause of the Manchurian pneumonic plague of 1910-11

12. Graham Huggan (University of Leeds – UK)

Attenborough, colonialism and the British tradition of nature documentary

13. Larissa Budde (University of Siegen – Germany)

The semiotics of insects and the hive in popular culture

14. David Rothenberg (New Jersey Institute of Technology – USA)

Animal music, animal aesthetics

15. Ralph R. Acampora (Hofstra University – USA)

The (proto-)ethical significance of semiosis: When and how does one become somebody who matters?



In Sydney, Australia

At this prolonged moment I am in Sydney, Australia. I left Norway Tuesday 15th and flew here via London and Abu Dhabi (my first 'visit' to the Middle East - unfortunately I did not have the time to step outside the airport). 17.000-18.000 km later, on Thursday 17th, I was here (my first visit to Australia).

The workshop "The History, Philosophy and Future of Ethology", organized by Matthew Chrulew of Macquarie University - who I got to meet yesterday - starts tomorrow and lasts for three days. I will meet the other foreign guests for dinner in a couple of hours.

Semiotics and phenomenology: Dates and location

My soon-to-be announced intensive course "Semiotics and phenomenology" will take place (in Tartu - Tiigi 78-311) April 11, 12 (at 16.15-18) and 13 (at 10.15-12), and further May 16, 17 (at 16.15-18) and 18 (at 10.15-12). As appears here, there will likely be 6 classes, not 8.

More to follow.

Excerpts from online debate on agriculture and carnivores in Dagbladet

My chronicle in Dagbladet, "Landet som grodde igjen", triggered 90 comments or so in Dagbladet's online debate (same page as the article). Three excerpts were printed in a column in Dagbladet Tuesday 15th of February, along with a brief presentation of my text.

Saturday, 12 February 2011

Unsuccessful research application

I have just been informed - though the decision is not that fresh - that the application for a research project entitled "Environmental Semiotics: Theory and applications in changing culture and environment" failed to get funding. In the application I was included as an Extraordinary Researcher with full work load (research) - though I was later told who would actually be included, and with what kind of role, would only be decided following a positive answer.

The external reviewer noted that
this research has the potential to place the Tartu School of Semiotics within international Environmental Humanities. [...] The proposal is, however, too semiotical in the sense that it lives in its theoretical fields without making too many contacts to practice and concrete problems.
Cf. previous posts:
* Application for research project 2011-2016
* Prospects for further wolf research?

Chronicle on agriculture and carnivores

Today a chronicle of mine, "Landet som grodde igjen" [The country that /overgrew/], is in print in the national Norwegian daily Dagbladet (Norway's third biggest newspaper).

An unedited version of the Norwegian language text has been posted in my Norwegian language blog Utopisk Realisme.


Here's the chronicle on Dagbladet's pages. As of now there are 69 comments.

Friday, 11 February 2011

Book proposal submitted

We (Kadri Tüür and I) have just submitted the book proposal for The Semiotics of Animal Representations. After formatting we're talking about 8 (proposal) + 6 (Authors' and editors' info sheet) + 23 (Abstract book) pp; all in all 37 pp.

Tartu dates

My next visits to Tartu will take place April 3-17 and May 15-24.

During the first of these I will take part in the international conference Zoosemiotics and Animal Representations and teach the first half of my intensive course on semiotics and phenomenology.

During the second I will teach the second half of that intensive course and apply for my doctoral degree (prospective date: Monday, May 23rd).

Update on my upcoming intensive course on semiotics and phenomenology

It has now been settled that my upcoming intensive course in semiotics and phenomenology at Department of Semiotics, Tartu, will take place in the weeks April 11-15 and May 16-20.

There will be a total of 8 classes (16 academic hours). An essay will have to be written by all students. The course will give 3 EAP.

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Intensive graduate seminar: Animals, Culture, Environment

The intensive graduate seminar "Animals, Culture, Environment", scheduled for April 6-8, has been launched. More specifically, there is a CFP due February 28th. The seminar is part of the Graduate School of Culture Studies and Arts, a joint venture of four Estonian universities; Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre, University of Tartu, Tallinn University, and Estonian Academy of Arts.

Animals, Culture, Environment will be organized in the framework of the international conference Zoosemiotics and Animal Representations. Included in the graduate course are the plenary speeches of Jesper Hoffmeyer, Graham Huggan and David Rothenberg, and the three roundtables of the conference (including Futures of Zoosemiotics, chaired by me). In addition there will be teaching by Elena Grigorjeva and Aleksei Turovski.

There's room for 20 doctoral students.

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Finishing book proposal on animal representations

The last few days I have, with some effort, revised
* the book proposal (6pp)
* the abstract book (17pp)
* Editors' and authors' information sheet (4pp)
... for the edited collection The Semiotics of Animal Representations, for which Kadri Tüür and I are the prospective editors. There's 15 chapters ... and 27pp to present the idea of the book, 14 abstracts included, from contributors that have all confirmed their participation in the book project.

I hope and expect we can submit it in a matter of days.

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Sydney programme

In the draft programme of the forthcoming workshop "The History, Philosophy and Future of Ethology" (Sydney Feb. 19-21), my talk "Bad dog: An Uexküllian analysis of Norwegian wolf management" has been scheduled for Saturday Feb. 19th at 2-3 pm. Brett Buchanan, the author of Onto-Ethologies: The Animal Environments of Uexküll, Heidegger, Merleau-Ponty, and Deleuze, will moderate the session.

On Monday Feb. 21st I will moderate a session (1.20-2.40 pm) where Thom van Dooren and organizer of the Sydney workshop Matthew Chrulew will present papers.

Saturday, 5 February 2011

Shared Worlds, Oslo MA event: Webpage; roundtable description

The Oslo Minding Animals Pre-Conference event, "Shared Worlds", now has a webpage.


Today I've written a description of the roundtable on the shared worlds of wolves and people.
Humans and wolves have co-evolved. We have several species-characteristic behavioral patterns in common, among them being social hunters. To varying degrees, a wolf is human-like, and a human wolf-like. The Big Bad Wolf has given rise to a vivid cultural imagery – it is a symbol, a cultural icon, and an animal that is highly sensitive to our own evolving human ecology. In Scandinavia, wolf management is controversial and currently under political review. How are we to co-exist? How do our behaviors and management regimes shape the world of the wolf, and how do they shape us?

Academic Reputation Survey - results

Last year I was one of the respondents in Thomson Reuters global Academic Reputation Survey, which was used as part of the foundation for the 2010 Times Higher Education World University Rankings. See Report of findings for the full report.

* 13,388 respondents
* of which 16% said Western Europe was their region of greatest familiarity
* of which 3,790 scholars were based in Europe
* of which 69% were academic staff, 15% research staff, 7% senior institutional leadership, 6% graduate/post-graduate students, and 2% teaching staff
* All in all, the average respondent reported spending 52% of the worktime doing research, 31% teaching and 18% administering. While senior institutional leadership spends 48% of the time administering, and 32% doing research, research staff spent 81% of the time doing research, teaching staff spent 57% of the time teaching, and graduate/post-graduate students spent 81% doing research, 13% teaching and 6% administering. Academic staff, the majority group (9,219 respondents), spent 46% researching, 37% teaching and 18% administering.
* of which 78% were male - most (87%) in Engineering & technology; fewest (69%) in Social Sciences
* of which only 779 identified as Arts & Humanities, the smallest group (Social Sciences and Life Sciences were both represented by 2000+ respondents)
* Research papers published: In average, a respondent said to have published 53.4 research papers (median: 30; meaning that a few publishes a lot and increases the average). Those with tenure had in average published 64.9 papers (median: 40), those without tenure in average 29.2 (median: 15). Even among those without tenure, however, 5% had published 100+ (with tenure: 17%). Males had published in average 58.9 papers (median: 32), females 33.5 (median: 20) - note that the survey says nothing about age distribution, which might explain part of the gender gap.
* Of senior institutional leadership, who had an average of 101.7 published papers (median: 70), 59% had published 50+ research papers and 34% 100+. Of academic staff, 33% had published 0-20 papers and 31% 20-50. Of research staff, 60% had published 0-20 papers, and of teaching staff 61%. Of graduate/post-graduate students, who had an average of 8.6 papers published (median: 6), 94% had published 0-20 papers and 6% 20-50.

Thomson Reuters remarks that respondents from Arts & Humanities were poorly represented in line with the poor publishing frequency compared to scholars from harder sciences (I wonder how the numbers would look like if a distinction was introduced between single authorship and co-authorship; or if the number of pages published had been counted...).

Friday, 4 February 2011

Zoosemiotics and MAO planning

1. Yesterday the organizing team of the forthcoming Oslo Minding Animals Pre-Conference Lecture event (October 14-15) had its second Skype meeting. In focus was our event webpage, which is about to be launched. We also established an email account, shared.worlds.oslo [] Meanwhile, Martin Lee Mueller has withdrawn from the organizing team.

2. Today I have worked with plans for the Futures of Zoosemiotics roundtable, which will be arranged in Tartu, April 6th, as part of the conference Zoosemiotics and Animal Representations (program here). I have taken part in discussing the time schedule/format, made a preliminary list of roundtable participants to invite (after February 15th), and written a 10-line presentation of key questions of the roundtable.

A note on the Schumacher college MA in ecological economics

Schumacher College (in cooperation with the University of Plymouth) is launching a MA in ecological economics. The MA program is called "Economics for Transition - Achieving low carbon, high well-being, resilient economies."

I think it's great the MA is being introduced, but a bit puzzled that the word "growth" only appear once, towards the very end of the website presenting the MA.
What you will learn
Use sources of knowledge and evidence to powerfully critique the dominant economic growth model
Surely economic growth is risky to describe in critical terms, given how many offer simplistic, not very insightful critique - but hardly mentioning the phenomenon at all is not very promising either.

Schumacher College also offers a MSc in Holistic Science.

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Phenomenology conference on Umwelt and social change

I have just received notice about a phenomenology conference with two topics very close to my doctoral topic: "Phenomenological Perspectives on Cultural Change and Environmental Challenges". The conference is to be arranged in Vilnius, Lithuania, September 24-26.

The Conference will focus on the following themes:

1. Phenomenology, Intentionality, and Social Change
2. The concepts of environment (Umwelt) in phenomenology
3. The phenomena of social, cultural, economical environment
4. Differences and Similarities Between Nature and Culture
5. Synchronization of Social Change and Environmental Resiliency
6. Phenomenological Perspectives on Economics, Politics, and Environment
7. Phenomenology, Globalization, and Environmental Sustainability

The Conference is organized by:

Vilnius Gediminas Technical University, Lithuania
Antioch University Seattle, USA


Prof. Tomas Kacerauskas (Vilnius Gediminas Technical University, Lithuania)
Prof. Farouk Y. Seif (Antioch University Seattle, USA)

Abstracts are due May 20.

Academic publications referring to my work

In the bibliography of my writings I have included an overview of other academic publications referring to my work. As of today, there are 20, according to my math, representing scholars from 9 countries. Half of these references are from 2010.

Of the 20 references, 5 are Acknowledgements, 5 are references to my 2003 article Umwelt ethics (2006, 2007, 2009, 2010), and 4 to my first academic article, Outline of an Uexküllian bio-ontology from 2001 (2002, 2005, 2008).

Year-by-year overview (number of academic publications referring to my work):
2002: 3 (3 countries)
2004: 1
2005: 1
2006: 1
2007: 1
2008: 1
2009: 2 (2 countries)
2010: 10 (7 countries)


I have, for the first time, composed a bibliography of my writings. At 5 pages, it is available through Scribd in PDF format.

1. Books

2. Academic theses

3. Self-published

4. Editing of academic journals

5. Editing of NGO publications

6. NGO reports

7. Texts written for newspapers and magazines

8. Blogs

9. Academic publications

10. Academic publications referring to my work

11. Further online sources

Updated CV

I have updated my CV (available through Scribd). 11 pp.

New features:

Teaching of semiotics, semiotics of teaching

Winfried Nöth's article "The semiotics of teaching and the teaching of semiotics", in which he refers to the joint semiotics review of the PhD students of University of Tartu's Department of Semiotics, is available online. It has been published - last year - as chapter 1 of Inna Semetsky's edited collection Semiotics - Education - Experience (pp. 1-20).

Excerpt (p. 11):
Currently, a much more comprehensive survey of more than 100 introductions to semiotics worldwide is being prepared by K. Kull, M. Tønnessen et al. The author of the present survey acknowledges having profited from the unpublished paper by Kull et al. in updating the bibliographical survey for his own much shorter survey of introductions to semiotics.