Margot Must

Doctoral defence: Lauri Linask "Autocommunication in the Semiotic Development of the Child"

On 17 June at 16:00 Lauri Linask will defend his doctoral thesis "Autocommunication in the Semiotic Development of the Child" for obtaining the degree of Doctor of Philosophy (in Semiotics and Culture Studies).

Professor Kalevi Kull, University of Tartu

Professor Edna Andrews, Duke University (United States of America)
Professor Emeritus Barend van Heusden, University of Groningen (Netherlands)

The study examines how young meaning-making in young children evolves as they become active participants in their culturally meaningful environments. Humans are uniquely cultural beings to the extent that culture is often characterised as specific to humans. However, comprehension of cultural environments is not innate, and human meaning-making does not remain unchanged throughout childhood but develops over time through cultural interactions. During these interactions, the young child changes physically, physiologically, psychologically, and culturally. It is not only the child’s relationship to the world that is transformed but also the child’s relationship to her or himself – as they are a part of this world. Therefore, as the child’s meaning-making develops in communicative interaction with the surrounding culture, the child also undergoes changes in this process in communicative interaction with him or herself.

The ways of human meaning-making are closely linked to the problem of the intertwining of culture and nature within people themselves where the signified meaning-making specific to humans develops. Human meaning-making is at once external, social, and culturally shared, and at the same time a process and a result of internal, individual understanding and interpretation. In semiotics, meaning is understood to be constituted by signs. As signs mediate communication between people and capture the meaningful cultural environment for an individual person, both semiotics and developmental psychology share a mutual interest in the theories of signs.

This study combines and integrates the semiotic theories of signs, methods of textual analyses from the humanities, and observational research from developmental psychology to explain how young children create meaning within their cultural environments. The study focuses on discursive and other culturally significant communicative and creative phenomena, in which the child is not communicating with others, but rather with her or himself. This study examines how the child, while interacting with culture, changes his or herself.

The defence will be held also in  Zoom (Meeting ID: 974 4218 1767 and Passcode 518950).