Tartu–Moscow Semiotic School

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The Tartu–Moscow Semiotic School is a scientific school of thought in the field of semiotics that was formed in 1964 and led by Yuri Lotman. Among the other members of this school were Boris Uspensky, Vyacheslav Ivanov, Vladimir Toporov, Mikhail Gasparov, Alexander Piatigorsky, Isaak I. Revzin, and others. As a result of their collective work, they established a theoretical framework around the semiotics of culture.

The Tartu-Moscow School of Semiotics developed an original method of multidimensional cultural analysis. The languages of culture are interpreted as secondary modelling systems in relation to verbal language. This method permits a productive understanding of the use of different languages of culture.

This school is widely known for its journal, Sign Systems Studies (formerly published in Russian as Труды по знаковым системам), published by Tartu University Press. It is the oldest semiotics journal in the world, established in 1964.

In its first period, the 1960s and 1970s, TMSS followed a structuralist approach and was strongly influenced by Russian formalism. Since the 1980s, its approach can be characterized as post-structuralist, and is connected with the introduction of Yuri Lotman's concept of semiosphere and its relation to organicism.

Since the 1990s, TMSS has been succeeded by the Tartu Semiotics School, which is based in the Department of Semiotics of the University of Tartu and led by Kalevi Kull, Peeter Torop, Mihhail Lotman, and others.

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