Cover of The Machinery of Talk by Anne Freadman
The Machinery of Talk
Charles Peirce and the Sign Hypothesis
Anne Freadman

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2004
352 pages.
from $27.95

Cloth ISBN: 9780804747394
Paper ISBN: 9780804747400

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This radical reevaluation of one of the foundational figures of semiotics presents Peirce as the theorist of the "machinery of talk" rather than of the mind and its contents. The book is a genealogy of Peirce's writings on signs that seeks to account for the changes displayed across forty years of his work. The author's comprehensive knowledge of Peirce's work brings an incisive understanding to his notoriously elaborate and complex theory of signs, at the same time challenging some standard readings in Peirce scholarship. Freadman introduces the postulate of "genre" in order to argue that the transformation of materials from one genre in and by the objectives of another can account for the modifications in sign theory observable through the course of Peirce's career. The Machinery of Talk engages on a theoretical level with general issues in semiotics, taking Peirce's writings as a case study through which to investigate the adequacy of a theory of signs to account for the way "talk" works. It finds that "the sign" is inadequate without the accompanying postulate of "genre."

About the author

Anne Freadman is Associate Professor in the School of Languages and Comparative Cultural Studies at the University of Queensland.