Call for Papers: International Congress “Juri Lotman’s Semiosphere”

Call for Papers: International Congress “Juri Lotman’s Semiosphere”

February 25–28, 2022, Tallinn & Tartu, Estonia

2022 marks the centenary of the birth of Juri Lotman (28 February 1922), renowned Russian-Estonian semiotician, literary scholar and cultural historian. To celebrate this anniversary and commemorate his distinguished contribution to humanities and beyond, the University of Tartu, Tallinn University, Juri Lotman’s Semiotics Repository and the Estonian Association of Semiotics will be hosting an International Congress “Juri Lotman’s Semiosphere”.

The concept of semiosphere is one of the key outcomes of Lotman’s lifelong study of culture. It ties together the copious collection of topics and ideas that run across his works. The semiosphere is the hallmark of Lotman’s holistic and dynamic thinking, of the creative intellectual dialogue he had with scholars from various fields. For Lotman, the semiosphere as a space for meaning generation is the precondition for any act of communication:

Without the semiosphere, language not only does not function, it does not exist. The different substructures of the semiosphere are linked in their interaction and cannot function without the support of each other. This is the sense of semiosphere in the contemporary world, steadily expanding into space over the centuries, it has now taken on a global character, and includes within itself the call signs of satellites, the verse of poets and the cry of animals. The interdependence of these elements of the semiosphere is not metaphorical, but a reality.

(J. Lotman, “On the Semiosphere” [1984], transl .W. Clark. Sign Systems Studies, 33 (1), 2005: 218–9)

The congress is dedicated to Juri Lotman’s semiosphere, his expanding universe of the mind, a space of inspiring and unexpected dialogues that is continuously explored and rediscovered in various areas of research.

The congress aims to celebrate the centenary of Lotman’s birth by bringing together scholars from diverse fields of studies related to the intellectual legacy of Lotman. We wish to discuss his rich work, pioneering ideas and the vitality of new scholarship surrounding them, to trace the trajectories and developments of his ideas and to promote a space for interdisciplinary encounters and new approaches, as well as for commemoration of Lotman as eminent scholar and great humanist.

The congress will take place on 25–26 February at Tallinn University and on 27–28 February at the University of Tartu, Estonia. The official languages of the congress are English and Russian.


  • Aleida Assmann (University of Konstanz)
  • Mieke Bal (Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis)
  • Sergey Nekludov (Russian State University for the Humanities)
  • Yuri Tsivian (The University of Chicago)
  • Boris Uspenskij (National Research University Higher School of Economics)


We invite proposals for individual presentations (20 minutes + 10 minutes for discussion). You
can submit your abstract here on the Congress website (the link for submissions will be opened
on the 1st of March).


If you are interested in organizing a thematic panel involving 3 or 4 presentations, please submit
on the Congress webpage a short description of the panel (ca 200 words) and the abstracts
of each paper in the panel (ca 250 words each).
Please include the following information in your submission:

1. Name
2. Institutional affiliation and academic status
3. Email address
4. Title of submission and abstract in English or Russian
5. A maximum of six keywords
6. Short biography (ca 100 words)

All proposals should be written in English or in Russian. Please specify whether you prefer to
deliver your paper or hold your panel in Tallinn or in Tartu.


Submissions open: 1 March 2021
Deadline for submissions: 15 May 2021
Presenters will be informed of decision by 31 August 2021
Confirmation of attendance by 30 September 2021
Early registration starts: 1 October 2021
Registration closes: 15 January 2022