Friday, May 16, 2008

Welcome to SemiObama

Semiotics is concerned with everything that can be taken as a sign. A sign is everything which can be taken as significantly substituting for something else.

--Umberto Eco

One of the most striking phenomena in contemporary American culture is the ascendancy of Barack Obama as a symbol. He stands for so much for so many people--hope, possibility, racial equality, vision, youth, energy, and change. In fact, he is, in many regards, no longer just a person; he is an icon. For a great number of people, especially young people, he stands for America's most positive values, while to some, he embodies America's most unattractive fears and anxieties. Regardless of how one feels about Mr. Obama, the junior senator from Illinois and the presumptive Democratic candidate for president of the United States, one cannot ignore his ubiquity. He is everywhere: on t-shirts, on YouTube, across magazine covers, on television, and in nearly every meaningful publication around the world. So saturated is our media with images of Obama, it is now, officially, approaching the level of high camp.

SemiObama is here to do something about that.

With a sense of humor and a sense of history, SemiObama seeks to
offer insightful, innovative, and informative readings of representations of Barack Obama in popular and visual culture. This publication is not concerned with parsing Mr. Obama's politics. Rather, we are interested in unpacking and decoding the visual texts of and about Obama. In other words, SemiObama is dedicated to offering semiotic readings of various Obamian texts as they make thier way into our culture and come to signify ideas, values, and beliefs beyond the candidate himself.

In addition to his observations about semiotics and signs, Umberto Eco also suggests that semiotics is the "discipline studying everything which can be used in order to lie," so we will also look closely at visual Obama texts that are used, both by the idealistic and the idiotic, to mislead.

We hope you have as much fun reading SemiObama as we will have have reading (and writing about) the semiotics of Obama.

We can be reached at Feel free to contact us with ideas, suggestions, and criticisms.

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