“Semiotics is in principle the discipline studying everything which can be used in order to lie. If something cannot be used to tell a lie, conversely it cannot be used to tell the truth: it cannot in fact be used "to tell" at all.” Umberto Eco, A Theory of Semiotics
Jacques Louis David, Death of Marat, 1793.











Elisabeth Louise Vigee-Lebrun,
Marie Antoinette en Chemise, 1783.
Elisabeth Louise Vigee-Lebrun,
Marie Antoinette with Rose, 1783.
Elisabeth-Louise Vigee-Lebrun, Portrait of Marie Antoinette with Her Children, 1787.











Hall of Mirrors

Le Hameau
Jules Hardouin-Mansart and Charles Le Brun. Hall of Mirrors, Palais de Versailles. Begun 1678. Approx. 240' in length.
Le Hameau











Louis and Marie were married in 1770 when he was 16 and she was 15

He became the French King, and she became the Queen of France, in 1774

Louis c. 1770
Joseph Ducreux, Marie Antoinette, 1768.

"When the preposterous charges of inappropriate behavior with her son were leveled against her, the unhappy mother made no reply. Urged anew to explain herself, she said, with extraordinary emotion, 'I thought that human nature would excuse me from answering such an imputation, but I appeal from it to the heart of every mother here present.'” - Awesome Stories
Alexandre Kucharski. Unfinished portrait of Marie-Antoinette. 1774 - 1792.










myth = a type of speech with special conditions
a system of communication
ideas in form

Since myth is a type of speech, everything can be a myth provided it is conveyed by a discourse.

Myth is not defined by the object of its message, but by the way in which it utters its message.
Myth is…in short…a type of social usage which is added to pure matter.


1. signifier = "Quia ego nominor leo."
2. signified = "Because my name is lion."
Myth is peculiar because it is constructed from a semiological chain that existed before it
3. sign -> I am a grammatical example
"Myth… I shall call metalanguage, because it is a second language, in which one speaks about the first." - Roland Barthes
history is erased because myth is a sum of signs
I. signifier
acoustic image
mental image

II. signified


Where does this lion live? Has it been hunting? Where does this sentence come from?
relation between signifier + siginified











1. Signifier (black soldier giving French salute)

2. Signified (Frenchness, militariness)
3. Sign/I Signifier
I Signifier (Frenchness, militariness)
II Signified (France is a great empire; all her sons serve under her with equal zeal)
III Sign
Erases history: History of France, colonialism, present conflicts











The form of the myth is not a symbol.
The black child who salutes is not the symbol of the French Empire because he has too much presence. He appears a rich, fully experienced, spontaneous, innocent, indisputable image.
But at the same time this presence is tamed, put at a distance, made almost transparent. It recedes a little, it becomes the accomplice of a concept which comes to it fully armed, French Imperiality - once made use of, it becomes artificial.











What are the aims and purposes of myth?

Myth presents to work with poor, incomplete images, where the meaning is already relieved of its fat, and ready for signification, such as characters, pastiches, symbols, etc…forms are still motivated by the concept they represent.
[Myth] transforms history into nature… Everything happens as if the picture naturally conjured up the concept, as if the signifier gave a foundation to the signified.
The myth-consumer takes the signification for a system of facts. Myth is read as a factual system, whereas it is just a semiological system.





















The big wedding of the bourgeoisie, which originates in class ritual, can bear no relation to the economic status of the lower middle-class: but through the press, the news, and literature, it slowly becomes the very norm as dreamed, though not actually lived, of the petit-bourgeois couple. The bourgeoisie is constantly absorbing into its ideology a whole section of humanity which does not have its basic status and cannot live up to it except in imagination…











Jan Van Eyck, The Arnolfini Marriage, 1434.
Alexander Melville, Queen Victoria, 1845.












The Purity Myth, 2011