Copenhagen–Tartu school

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The Copenhagen–Tartu school of biosemiotics is a loose network of scholars working within the discipline of biosemiotics at the University of Tartu and the University of Copenhagen.


The school has been instrumental in developing biosemiotics as a new perspective on the study of life, in the biological and environmental sciences. Notable semioticians working in the Copenhagen–Tartu school are: Kalevi Kull, Jesper Hoffmeyer, Peeter Torop, Claus Emmeche, Timo Maran, Mihhail Lotman.[1][2][3]

Occasionally also the name 'Tartu–Bloomington–Copenhagen school' has been used,[4] as having succeeded the earlier Tartu–Moscow school.[5]

The biosemiotic co-work between the Tartu and Copenhagen groups was established in early 1990s.[6] In 2001, Tartu and Copenhagen scholars inaugurated the annual international conferences for biosemiotic research known as the Gatherings in Biosemiotics, later organised by the International Society for Biosemiotic Studies.[7]

The School values classical works of Jakob von Uexküll and Juri Lotman.

Key texts[edit]

  • Emmeche, Claus; Kull, Kalevi (eds.) 2011. Towards a Semiotic Biology: Life is the Action of Signs. London: Imperial College Press.
  • Hoffmeyer Jesper 2008. Biosemiotics: An Examination into the Signs of Life and the Life of Signs. Scranton, University of Scranton Press.
  • Kull, Kalevi; Deacon, Terrence; Emmeche, Claus; Hoffmeyer, Jesper; Stjernfelt, Frederik 2009. Theses on biosemiotics: Prolegomena to a theoretical biology. Biological Theory: Integrating Development, Evolution, and Cognition 4(2): 167–173.
  • Kull, Kalevi; Emmeche, Claus; Favareau, Donald 2008. Biosemiotic questions. Biosemiotics 1(1): 41–55.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The institution of semiotics in Estonia. 2011. Sign Systems Studies 39(2/4). Compiled by Kalevi Kull, Silvi Salupere, Peeter Torop, Mihhail Lotman [1]
  2. ^ Favareau, Donald (ed.) 2010. Essential Readings in Biosemiotics: Anthology and Commentary. Berlin: Springer.
  3. ^ Barbieri, Marcello (ed.) 2008. Introduction to Biosemiotics: The New Biological Synthesis. Berlin: Springer.
  4. ^ International Handbook of Semiotics, Springer, 2015, p. 98. [2]
  5. ^ Deely, John 2010. Semiotics Seen Synchronically: The View from 2010. New York: Legas, pp. 32, 95–97.
  6. ^ Hoffmeyer, Jesper; Kull, Kalevi 2011. Theories of signs and meaning: Views from Copenhagen and Tartu. In: Emmeche, Claus; Kull, Kalevi (eds.), Towards a Semiotic Biology: Life is the Action of Signs. London: Imperial College Press, 263–286. P. 270.
  7. ^ Rattasepp, Silver; Bennett, Tyler (eds.) 2012. Gatherings in Biosemiotics. (Tartu Semiotics Library 11.) Tartu: University of Tartu Press.