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Monday, 25 November 2013

Nordic semiotics webpage updated

Some days ago I updated the webpage of the Nordic Association for Semiotic Studies, including these subpages:

Appointed member of scientific committee for cognitive semiotics conference

A few days ago I was asked to be a member of the scientific committee of the September 25-27th 2014 First International Association for Cognitive Semiotics (IACS) Conference, which will take place in Lund, Sweden with the theme "Establishing Cognitive Semiotics". I accepted.

195 exam papers graded

The last few weeks I have graded 195 exam papers (each ca. 2.300 words) in the course Examen Philosophicum as part of the bachelor in nursing at University of Stavanger's Department of health studies.

Uexküll's essay "Darwin and the English morality" published online

Jakob von Uexküll's 1917 essay "Darwin and the English Morality", which has been translated from German to English by me and language-edited by Jonathan Beever, has now (or specifically November 21st) been published online in Biosemiotics. It will soon appear in print as well, along with the framing essay "“Darwin und die englische Moral”: The Moral Consequences of Uexküll’s Umwelt Theory" written by Jonathan and myself.

Methodology talk scheduled for presentation November 29th

My forthcoming presentation "Plans for field work on predator-prey conflicts in Norway involving video-recorded interviews followed by pico-scale analysis" at Seminar on methodology of ecosemiotics (Tartu, November 28-29) has been scheduled for presentation in the 10.00-12.00 session on Friday November 29th. This session will also feature presentations by Timo Maran, and Riin Magnus and Kadri Tüür, respectively.

Abstract: "Plans for field work on predator-prey conflicts in Norway involving video-recorded interviews followed by pico-scale analysis"

A couple of weeks ago I wrote the abstract below, in preparation of my forthcoming talk at Seminar on methodology of ecosemiotics (November 28-29).

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Plans for field work on predator-prey conflicts in Norway involving video-recorded interviews followed by pico-scale analysis
Morten Tønnessen
Associate professor in philosophy at University of Stavanger’s Department of Health Studies
Abstract
Seminar on methodology of ecosemiotics/Seminar ökosemiootika metodoloogiast (November 28-29, 2013 – University of Tartu)

In this presentation I will present plans for field work which is to be conducted within the Norwegian-Estonian research project “Animals in Changing Environments: Cultural Mediation and Semiotic Analysis” (see the English version of the Norwegian research group’s website). More specifically, the field work will be carried out as part of the case study “Representations (both Problematic and Romanticizing) of Large Mammals, especially Wolves”. The researchers who will be involved in this field work are Paul Thibault, Kristin Armstrong Oma and myself. Timo Maran will contribute to the case study.

The field work will examine cultural representations of wolves and animals that are perceived to be threatened by the wolf, including sheep, reindeer and hunting dogs. Respondents will be recruited (via local collaborators) at three locations in Norway – one predominantly focused on conflicts with sheep, another on reindeer and a third on hunting dogs. In addition there will be a control group recruited at University of Stavanger.

The interview which is to be designed will include displaying of pictures and video clips (from zoos; from wildlife cameras; from nature documentaries etc.). All interviews will be video-recorded. Post-study Multimodal Event Analysis will focus on vocalisations including verbal language, body language including gestures, and facial expressions. This analysis will at some points be pico-scale, i.e., the video recordings will be analysed when replayed in (extreme) slow motion.

We plan to write 3 working papers in the process of doing the field work – these will be made available online via the project’s Norwegian website. The field work will further, besides the main study, involve a pilot study. The main study will according to current plans be prepared in the Spring of 2014, conducted in the Autumn of 2014, and analysed in the Spring of 2015.

The work presented here has been supported of EEA Norway Grants EMP151.

Arne Næss webpage to go offline in January

The webpage arnei100.no, which is the website for the 100 year-anniversary of the birth of Norwegian philosopher Arne Næss (1912-2009), will go offline on January 22nd 2014. I have served as webmaster and as a member of the Arne i 100 committee.

Thursday, 21 November 2013

Budget for Norwegian part of research project composed and signed

The last week I have taken part in composing the UiS/Norwegian project budget for the Norwegian-Estonian research project "Animals in changing environments: Cultural mediation and semiotic analysis" (2013-2016), which involves a contractual value of 763.040 NOK and a total budget of 803.070 NOK. The budget was drafted November 14th, and eventually after some adjustments signed by my Head of department (and myself) on November 19th.

Course in web publishing tool CorePublish taken

Last week, on November 13th, I attended a half-day course in CorePublish, the Norwegian web publishing tool used by University of Stavanger. After having completed the course, I am now qualified to serve as webmaster for the UiS webpages of the research project "Animals in changing environments: Cultural mediation and semiotic analysis" (in Norwegian and English version).

See also:

Research project webpage updated

The last few days I have updated the Norwegian webpage(s) of the Norwegian-Estonian research project "Animals in changing environments: Cultural mediation and semiotic analysis" (2013-2016), in both its Norwegian and English versjon. The updates include grant agency logos, three abstracts (for the upcoming research seminar in Stavanger December 13th), and brief descriptions of the three case studies with Norwegian involvement.

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

"Animals in changing environments" project mentioned at staff meeting

At yesterday's staff meeting at University of Stavanger's Department of health studies, the research project "Animals in changing environments: Cultural mediation and semiotic analysis" (EEA Norway Grants EMP151), for which I am the Norwegian project leader, was mentioned as one of the department's three EU projects, in the Head of department's summary of the department's activities. At this specific staff meeting, which was a "dialogue meeting", the leadership of UiS including the university rector was present.

Potential terms for review - the biosemiotic glossary project

In the context of the ongoing survey in the biosemiotic community partaking in the biosemiotic glossary project (see below), I thought I could share the terms we in the editorial team have listed as potential terms for review. In alphabetical order, these are:
causation + semiotic causation + downward causation
code
cognition
communication
evolution
function
information
interpretation
intentionality + goal
learning
life
mind + perception
organism
niche + semiotic niche
ritualization
semiotic emergence
semiotic freedom
semiotic threshold
sign + semiosis + biosemiosis
signal
species + species-specific
subject + subjectivity
Umwelt (+ Innenwelt?)
As part of the survey, which is conducted until December 15th 2013, respondents are invited to suggest terms to review.

See also:
The biosemiotic glossary project announced and started - first terms to be reviewed 'agent', 'agency

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Book review of "Hvem er villest..." in ARR, journal of history of ideas

There is a book review of the Norwegian Human-Animal Studies anthology "Hvem er villest i landet her? Råskap mot dyr og natur i antropocen, menneskets tidsalder [Who is wildest in this country here? Brutality towards animals and nature in the Anthropocene, the age of Man]" in the latest issue of the Norwegian academic journal ARR - Idéhistorisk tidsskrift [... journal of history of ideas], no. 4/2013, on pages 152-155. The review is written by Espen Schaanning and entitled "Dyrs verdi" [The value of animals]. The book review is generally positive, with some exceptions - for instance that Schaanning is critical to the title of the book.

The biosemiotic glossary project announced and started - first terms to be reviewed 'agent', 'agency'

Yesterday I posted "Questionnaire from Biosemiotics - and info about the biosemiotic glossary project" in the Biosemiosis blog. The text, which I also distributed on an email list and by email, reads like this:
Dear all,

on behalf of the journal Biosemiotics, I refer you to a questionnaire which we now distribute in the biosemiotic community in preparation of the biosemiotic glossary project. The editorial team of Biosemiotics, which counts Alexei Sharov, Timo Maran and myself (note that in parallel Marcello is finishing the final issues he is responsible for the next few months), has decided to go through with this project, and that I will be its handling editor.

The genre for the resulting publications will be invited review articles. The first, standard-setting review article, on the notions ‘agent’ and ‘agency’, will be written by me personally. One review will be published in each regular issue of Biosemiotics – in other words, usually there will be two review articles per year. The first article will appear in no. 3/2014. Each article will review one or more terms.

While I am the handling editor for these review articles, all three of us will be involved in decision making. We will routinely discuss and decide on what term(s) to review next, what author(s) to invite to write each review, etc. As part of the editorial process, each review article will, when submitted, be distributed to the members of the editorial board of Biosemiotics and further to those cited in the article, for feedback. This will be part of the basis for our editorial decision concerning whether the review is ready to be published or needs revisions.

A survey in the biosemiotic community will be conducted in preparation of each review article. The associated questionnaire, which is to be returned to me as handling editor, will be distributed to a wide range of biosemioticians, including but not necessarily restricted to/via the members of the editorial board and advisory board of Biosemiotics, the biosemiotics email list (biosemiotics@lists.ut.ee), the board members of the International Society for Biosemiotic Studies (ISBS), the board members of the International Society of Code Biology (ISCB), and the Biosemiosis blog (http://biosemiosis.blogspot.com/).

The invited author(s) will in each case be tasked with describing the outcomes of the survey associated with their review article, and to do so systematically and in an unbiased manner. However, when it comes to synthesis and suggestions, they will have the freedom to propose their own view even if it contradicts the general/popular understanding. In the writing process, all assigned authors are expected to conduct an extensive literature review on their own as well.

All respondents to the first survey in the biosemiotic community are, as part of the survey, invited to propose specific terms to review. Suitable terms should be quite concisely used by several biosemioticians, and if the terms are in more general usage as well, the biosemiotic usage of the terms should somehow stand out from general usage.

The deadline for returning the attached questionnaire is December 15th. It should be sent to my email address (mortentoennessen AT gmail.com or alternatively morten.tonnessen AT uis.no).

My best,

Morten Tønnessen
Co-Editor-in-Chief of Biosemiotics

PS: The questionnaire is available via my Academia.edu page, here.

Friday, 15 November 2013

"Beyond sentience" paper presented at UiS research seminar

Yesterday I presented the paper "Beyond sentience: Biosemiotics as foundation for animal and environmental ethics", written by Jonathan Beever and myself, at a research seminar at University of Stavanger, as part of the "program area" ["programområde" in Norwegian] "Conditions of Normativity" (I, however, was there as a guest, upon invitation).

Symbolic construction of Big Bad Wolf abstract posted in Minding Animals blog

Today "The symbolic construction of the Big Bad Wolf in contemporary Scandinavia" was posted in the blog of Minding Animals Norway. The text is an abstract for my upcoming presentation at the First Norwegian Research Seminar – Animals in Changing Environments: Cultural mediation and Semiotic Analysis (December 13, 2013 – University of Stavanger, Norway). You can register by sending an email.

The text has already been posted here in Utopian Realism.

Monday, 11 November 2013

Abstract for 13/12 - "The symbolic construction of the Big Bad Wolf in contemporary Scandinavia"

The abstract below was written yesterday, in preparation of my upcoming presentation December 13th at First Norwegian Research Seminar – Animals in Changing Environments: Cultural mediation and Semiotic Analysis.

See also the latest online versions of my CV and bibliography.

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The symbolic construction of the Big Bad Wolf in contemporary Scandinavia
Morten Tønnessen
Abstract
First Norwegian Research Seminar – Animals in Changing Environments: Cultural mediation and Semiotic Analysis (December 13, 2013 – University of Stavanger)

In this presentation, as background for the case study “Representations (both Problematic and Romanticizing) of Large Mammals, especially Wolves”, I will summarise my work on wolves to date. This includes 8 academic publications (Tønnessen 2010a, 2010b, 2010c, 2011a, 2011b, 2011c, 2013a and 2013b) and 18 presentations at conferences and research seminars:
  • 2009
    • Wolf Land: The Phenomenal World of Wolves on the Scandinavian Peninsula
    • On Contrapuntuality: Semiotic Niche vs. Ontological Niche: The Case of the Scandinavian Wolf Population
    • Estranged, Endangered, Extinct: Lessons from the Extinction off the Scandinavian Wolf
    • The Changing Imagery of the Big Bad Wolf
  • 2010
    • The Legality and Ethical Legitimacy of Wolf Hunting in Scandinavia
    • En økosemiotisk analyse av norsk ulveforvaltning [An ecosemiotic analysis of Norwegian wolf management]
    • Territory vs. Confinement: The Umwelten of Free-Range vs. Captive Wolves
    • Ulovlig jakt på ulv [Illegal wolf hunting]
    • The Nature View and Worldview of People in Rendalen Municipality in the Region of Hedmark
  • 2011
    • Bad Dog: An Uexküllian Analysis of Norwegian Wolf Management
    • The Umwelt Trajectories of Wolves, Sheep and People
    • Wolf History: Agents in Hiding
    • Two Global Species and their Age-Old Foe: The Semiotic Eth(n)ology of Wolves, Sheep and People
    • Offisiell og ‘uoffisiell’ rovviltforvaltning i Norge sett med et humanøkologisk blikk: Hva er motivene og handlingene? [Official and ‘unofficial’ predator management in Norway seen from the perspective of human ecology: What are the motifs and actions?]
    • The Cultural Semiotic of Wolves and Sheep
  • 2012
    • The Contemporary Symbolic Construction of Norway’s Big Bad Wolf
  • 2013
    • Animal and Eve: How Representations of Wolves and Sheep are Used to Construct Human Identities
    • Plans for Field Work on Predator-Prey Conflicts in Norway involving Video-Recorded Interviews followed by Pico-Scale Analysis
In cultural terms, hardly any animal is as loaded with symbolic value as the wolf. A main finding in my work to date is that the wolf has become a poster boy for large predators in general, and a scape goat for certain societal developments. In consequence, what wolves are taken to signify depends not so much on actual wolf ecology as on these cultural/societal developments, which are, justly or unfairly, associated with the presence of wolves. The wolf’s vivid symbolicity in current times is enforced by the occurrence of conspiracy theories.
In Norway, the wolf as a symbol is particularly associated with the sheep as a symbol. The sheep’s symbolicity is in the Norwegian context grounded in open landscapes, which are typically taken to be intrinsically Norwegian. Sheep symbolicity is thus effectively associated with outer pastures, which have been crucial in Norwegian sheep husbandry but are now under pressure. And so it is that wolves are blamed for overgrowth (gjengroing).

References
Tønnessen, Morten 2010a. Wolf Land. Biosemiotics 3.3: 289-297.
— 2010b. Is a Wolf wild as Long as it Does Not Know that It Is Being Thoroughly Handled? Humanimalia – a journal of human/animal interface studies 2(1) (Fall 2010): 1-8 (available online).
— 2010c. The Legality and Ethical Legitimacy of Wolf Hunting in Scandinavia. Pp. 65-72 in the Research seminar report 52 of the Scandinavian Council for Criminology.
— 2011a. I, Wolf: The Ecology of Existence. In Johannes Servan and Ane Faugstad Aarø (eds.): Environment, Embodiment and Gender, Bergen: Hermes Text, 315-333.
— 2011b. Fra by og land, mann mot mann til visjon 2040 [From city against countryside, man against man to vision 2040]. Kulturverk (online magazine) – published in three parts Nov. 13, Nov. 17 and Nov. 24.
— 2011c. Umwelt Transition and Uexküllian Phenomenology – An Ecosemiotic Analysis of Norwegian Wolf Management (= Dissertationes Semioticae Universitatis Tartuensis 16). Doctoral dissertation. Tartu: Tartu University Press. 232 pp. Introduction available online.
2013a. Hvem er villest i landet her? Et ulveliv [Who is wildest in this country here? A wolf's life]. In Sollund, Ragnhild, Morten Tønnessen og Guri Larsen (eds) 2013, Hvem er villest i landet her? Råskap mot dyr og natur i antropocen, menneskets tidsalder [Who is wildest in this country here? Brutality towards animals and nature in the Anthropocene, the age of Man]Oslo: Spartacus Forlag/Scandinavian Academic Press, 79-98. 
— 2013b. Ketil Skogen, Olve Krange og Helene Figari 2013, Ulvekonflikter – en sosiologisk studie, Oslo 2013: Akademika forlag. Book review. Sosiologi idag 43(2) (Special Issue on „Dyr i samfunnet“ [Animals in society]): 117-122. Summary available online.

The work presented here has been supported by EEA Norway Grants EMP151.