The Story

The semioticians of the Department of Philosophy and Educational Sciences at the University of Turin carry on most of their research activities through CIRCE, the Centre for Interdisciplinary Research on Communication at the University of Turin, Italy.

Decree n. 237 of the Dean of the University of Turin established CIRCE on May 13, 2002. The decree defines CIRCE as an inter-departmental research center composed of and financed by the Departments of Social Sciences, Political Sciences, Psychology, History, Informatics, Economics, and Philosophy. In 2009, the Department of Law also entered CIRCE.

The main objective of CIRCE is to foster and support interdisciplinary research in humanities and social sciences in order to build a bridge between disciplinary groups, as well as between the academia and the citizenry (including public policy makers and private companies). At the moment, CIRCE focuses primarily on cultural semiotics, sociology of communication, history of communication, and interdisciplinary legal studies.

These have been, hitherto, the main activities of CIRCe:

1)            A series of symposia called “Incontri sul senso” (“Meetings on Meaning”): prestigious scholars in humanities and social sciences from Italy, Europe, and around the world are invited to deliver conferences on their on-going research projects, present their latest books, or propose new interpretations of different semiotic traditions to an audience of senior staff and post-Doc researchers, PhD students, and advanced undergraduate students;

2)            A monthly seminar for post-Doc researchers, PhD students, and advanced undergraduate students in interdisciplinary social sciences and humanities, cultural studies, and semiotics; the topic of the seminar changes every year, but often consists in a thorough collective reading and interpretation of the complete works of a famous scholar. In 2008-2009, for instance, all Greimas’s works were read and discussed by the seminar’s participants; in 2009-2010, all Lotman’s works, etc.;

3)            A monthly seminar where PhD students present their on-going research projects both to their peers and to the senior research staff of CIRCE;

4)            An annual roundtable, usually on a theoretical issue and involving both semioticians and non-semioticians. In 2007-2008, for instance, an international symposium was organized on “The city as text: urban writing and re-writing”, with the participation of SaskiaSassen and other top-level city studies scholars; in 2008-2009, an international symposium on “The meaning of action, the action of meaning” was organized; in 2009-2010, an international symposium on “The Fields of Pre-Vision”, etc.

5)            The publication of Lexia, a semi-annual international, blind peer-reviewed journal devoted to research in cultural semiotics, published by Aracne (Rome) and available also on-line (SCOPUS, ranked as A journal in the relevant disciplinary sector);

6)            Local, national, and international research projects. In 2006-2009, for instance, CIRCE led a national research project carried on together with the Universities of Bergamo, Bologna, Palermo, Rome, and Sassari and financed by the Italian Ministry for Research (100,000 Euros);

7)            A Summer School on cultural semiotics, organized every early September in cooperation with the New Bulgarian University and financed by both the European Union and the Italian Ministry for University and Research (Cooperlink Project);

8)            A series of lectures proposed by European colleagues through the many SOCRATES/ERASMUS learning agreements that the University of Torino has signed with other major centers of semiotic research in Europe (Helsinky, Riga, Sofia, Tartu, Vilnius, etc.)

9)            An European doctorate in semiotics (SEMKNOW), sponsored by the European Union

10)         Cooperation in the setting up of research projects, events, and courses with international partners.


CIRCe offers a lively research environment that encourages innovative, merit-based cooperation between researchers at different stages of their career. At the moment, CIRCE is seeking to expand its international cooperation with major research centers around the world as well as with public and private research think tanks.