Narrative Discourse as an Emergent Phenomenon: Global Semiotic Approach


  • Inna Livytska Volodymyr Vynnychenko Central Ukrainian State Pedagogical University


narrative, , meaning emergence, telic aspect, global semiotics, Umwelt


This theoretical paper continues a spectrum of research on the sign character of narrative discourse on the background of the modern post-classical theory of narrativity. It aims to uncover the relationships between the meaning of the narrative text and a sign signification, assuming an intentional character of the narrative discourse governed by telic aspects (global semiotics). The global semiotic approach (Thomas Sebeok, 2001) views a narrative discourse as a self-organizing entity with the purposeful (telic) character of all its constituent parts which turn a static text into a dynamic whole in the process of reading/perception/interpretation. The key notion for analysis of emergency is the term Umwelt (Jakob von Uexküll) to denote the perceptional world in which an organism (and a human) exists and acts as a subject. Therefore, Umwelt represents a human’s perceptual boundary, which modifies the surrounding by the human’s subjective perspective. As Umwelt can be attributed to both biological and abiotic texts, meaning creation in the narrative discourse is compared to a semiotic study of comparative Umwelten (Cobley, 2014) where the narrative is defined as a modeling device for the world created through embodied subjectivity. It has been confirmed, that stressing on the subjective sphere of information eÑ…change and processing from the position of global semiotics necessitates the introduction of basic principles of biosemiotics (i.e. semiotic scaffolding etc.) and teleology (i.e. cause, purpose, result) to the analysis of narrative discourse and it constitutes the perspectives for further research in this domain.


Alexander, V.N. ( 2009). The poetics of purpose. Biosemiotics 2: 77-100.
Andreeva, V. A. (2006). Event in Fictional Text. Yzvestyia Rossyiskoho hosudarstvennoho pedahohycheskoho unyversyteta ym. A.Y. Hertsena, 7. 21(1): 44-56 [in Russian].
Andreeva, V.A. (2007). Literary Narrative: Text and Discourse. Izvestia: Herzen University Journal of Humanities &Sciences 46: 61-74 [in Russian].
Barbieri, M. (2001). The Organic Codes: The Birth of Semantic Biology. Ancona: PeQuod.
Cobley, P.(2008) Communication: Definitions and Concepts. The International Encyclopedia of Communication. doi:10.1002/9781405186407.wbiecc071
Cobley, P. (2014). What is Narrative? Narrative 2nd edition. Chapter 9. Routledge.
Emmeche, C. (1998). Defining Life as a Semiotic Phenomenon. Cybernetics and Human Knowing 5 (1): 3-17.
Emmeche, C. (2000). Closure, function, emergence, semiosis, and life: The same idea? Reflections on the concrete and the abstract in theoretical biology. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 901: 187-197.
Genette, G. ([1972] 1980). Narrative Discourse: An Essay in Method, translated by Jane E. Lewin, Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.
Gervas, P; Lönneker-Rodman, B.; Meister, Jan, C; and Peinado, F. (2006). Narrative Models: Narratology meets artificial intelligence. In Proceedings of Satellite Workshop: Toward Computational Models of Literary Analysis, 5th International Conference on Language Resources and Evaluation. 44-51. Paris: European Language Association offices.
Greimas, A. J. (1976). Sémiotique et sciences sociales, Paris, Seuil.
Lotman, Y. M., Clark, W., Grishakova, M. (2009). Culture and Explosion. Berlin: De Gruyter Mouton.
Edelman, G., M., and Tononi, G. (2000). A universe of consciousness: How matter becomes imagination. New York: Basic Books.
Eko, U. (1988). Zametky na poliakh “Ymeny rozy”. Ynostrannaia lyteratura 10: 88-104 [in Russian].
Hamburger, K. ([1957] 1993). The Logic of Literature. 2nd, revised, edition, translated by Marilynn J. Rose. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.
Нerman, D. (2009). Basic Elements of Narrative. Retrieved from URL:
Herman, D. (2008). Narrative Theory and the Intentional Stance. Partial Answers 6 (2): 233-60.
Hoffmeyer, J. (2008). Biosemiotics: An Examination into the Signs of Life and the Life of Signs. Scranton: Scranton University Press.
Hoffmeyer, J. (1999). The vague boundaries of life. In Taborsky Edwina (editor) Semiosis, Evolution, Energy: Towards a Reconceptualization of the Sign. Aachen: Shaker Verlag, 151-169.
Hutto, D. D. (2008). Folk Psychological Narratives: The Sociocultural Basis of Understanding Reasons. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Keen, S. (2007). Empathy and the Novel. Oxford University Press.
Krampen, M.; Oehler, K.; Posner, R.; Sebeok,T.; Uexküll, T. von. (1987). Classics of Semiotics. New York: Plenum Press.
Kull, K. (2002). A sign is not alive – a text is. Sign Systems Studies 30 (1): 327-336.
Kull, K.; Emmeche, C.; Hoffmeyer, J . (2011). Why biosemiotics? An introduction to our view on the biology of life itself. Towards a semiotic biology: life is the action of signs. Claus Emmeche; Kalevi Kull (editors). Imperial College Press, 1-21.
Linde, C. (1993). Life Stories: The Creation of Coherence. New York: Oxford University Press.
Livytska, I. A. (2019). The Art of Narration and Artificial Narrative Intelligence: Implications for Interdisciplinary Research. Journal of Narrative and Language Studies 7 (13), 309-18.
Lotman, M. (2002). Umwelt and semiosphere. Sign Systems Studies 30 (1): 33-40.
Peirce, C. S. (1967). Manuscripts in the Houghton Library of Harvard University, as identified by Richard Robin. Annotated Catalogue of the Papers of Charles S. Peirce. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press.
Propp, V. ([1928] 1968). Morphology of the Folktale. Bloomington: Indiana UP.
Ricoeur, P. (1998). Vriemia I Razskaz: V. 1-2. Moskva: SPb. V.1: Intriga I isstorichesky razskaz [in Russian].
Rimmon-Kenan, S. ([1983] 2002). Narrative Fiction: Contemporary Poetics, 2nd edition., London: Routledge.
Sausurre, ([1916] 1959). Course in General Linguistics, edited by Charles Bally and Albert Sechehaye, in collaboration with Albert Riedlinger, translated by Wade Baskin. New York: The Philosophical Library. – Mode of access:
Searle, J. (1983). Intentionality: An Essay in the Philosophy of Mind
Searle, J. (2010). Making the Social World: The Structure of Human Civilization
Searle, J. (1977). Reiterating the Différences: A Reply to Derrida, Glyph 1: 198-208. Baltimore MD: Johns Hopkins University Press.
Sebeok, T. A. (2001). Global Semiotics. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.
Sonnenhauser, B. (2008). On the linguistic expression of subjectivity: Towards a sign-centered approach. Semiotica 172, 1 (4): 323-337.
Wu, J. (2015). Studies of Subjectivity in Language. Studies in Literature and Language 10 (3): 73-76.




How to Cite

Livytska, I. . (2021). Narrative Discourse as an Emergent Phenomenon: Global Semiotic Approach. Journal of Narrative and Language Studies, 9(16), 57–67. Retrieved from