Textual Signifiers
"The difference between the almost right word and the right word is really a large matter - 'tis the difference between the lightning-bug and the lightning." - Mark Twain











Condition of difference
"In language there are only differences." - Saussure
the meaning of the sign is never absolute, but rather a choice from a set of possibilities
f-shaped sound holes = violin + foreshortening + ?
Pablo Picasso, Violin, 1912.











"What collage achieves, then, is a metalanguage of the visual. It can talk about space without employing it; it can figure the figure throught the constant superimposition of grounds; it can speak in turn of light and shade the subterfuge of a written text."
Pablo Picasso, Still Life with Chair Caning, 1912.











Formal Analysis

"Is the term "formal analysis" merely a pretentious substitute for description? Not quite. A description is an impersonal inventory, dealing with the relatively obvious, reporting what an eye might see... A description can also comment on th eartistic medium and on the execution of the work... but unlike an analysis, a description does not offer inferences, and it does not evaluate." - Barnet., p. 49

ekphrasis = a highly detailed description that seeks to bring the image before the reader's eyes - a kind of writing fairly common in the days before illustrations of artworks were readily available in books.
analysis = the writer explains how elements in the work function, in effect, making a claim about the work and its meaning (whether intended by the artist or not).











Observe the work's physical properties:

visual and conceptual structures

Next, consider the subject:

who, what, representamen, represented, "Autobiographic Picasso" / methodology of the proper name

Make a claim that connects your formal observations with conclusive analysis of message / meaning:

Semiotic analysis (rhetoric) and consideration of overall organization


How the formal properties (denotative) encourage particular interpretations (connotative)


Comparison between two or more works (which can be either semiotic, formal, or both)

Pablo Picasso, Les Demoiselles D' Avignon, 1907.











Type of Women
Les Demoiselles D'Avignon
Edmond Fortier, Type of Women, West Africa, 1906.
Pablo Picasso, Les Demoiselles D'Avignon, 1907.
Three classes of message: linguistic, symbolic, literal

linguistic message is composed of denotative and connotative message

symbolic message = connotative meaning (interpretant)

literal message = denotative meaning











Who is the reader?























Meaning is often inferred through voice
personal pronouns
I, you, us, we, they, them, guys
prosodic features
aspects of stress and intonation
fluency and nonfluency
the extent to which language flows or stutters
variations in sound pattern or text to communicate the same word
vernacular, regional, gendered, social class, ethnic variations of the same idea
used for emphasis
vernacular, regional, gendered, social class, ethnic variations of the same idea
interactive markers
overlaps, interruptions, reinforcements and sounds like "err," "ugh," "um," and "oh"
topic changes
changes in subject