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Journal of the International Association for Semiotic Studies / Revue de l'Association Internationale de Sémiotique

Editor-in-Chief: Danesi, Marcel

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Volume 2013, Issue 195


The analysis of Licheń's Holy Icon as a case study in semiotic fortition

Joanna Lubos-Kozieł / Małgorzata Haładewicz-Grzelak
Published Online: 2013-06-07 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/sem-2013-0034


Through a team fieldwork study that entailed participant observation and creating a database of visual images (September 2010), this study seeks an understanding of semiotic fortition as a natural process. Natural semiotic processes are conceptualized here following the tenets of Natural Linguistics (e.g., Stampe 1979[1973]; Dziubalska-Kołaczyk 2002). Of particular relevance as a research category is the dyad of lenitions (the processes serving the demands of the speaker/sender of the message) and fortitions (those serving the listener/the receiver). We claim that these are in fact semiotic categories (perceptually based) and transpose them in the study of semiotic boundaries as a dynamic event (e.g., Newman 2003; Lotman 1973 [1970]). The fortitive processes are studied as a case study of the Holy Icon of Our Lady of Licheń, Sorrowful Queen of Poland (Matka Boska Licheńska Bolesna Królowa Polski), which is kept in one of the currently most important Catholic pilgrimage centers in Poland. In conclusion, analytic results are substantiated by perceptual saliency tests on the most popular Marian representations, administered to 113 university students.

Keywords: natural semiotic processes; Licheń pilgrimage center; semiotic fortition; perceptual saliency

About the article

Joanna Lubos-Kozieł

Joanna Lubos Kozieł (b. 1968) is an assistant professor at Wrocław University 〈 〉. Her research interests include church art from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, calvarias and other pilgrimage ventures, and imitations of the Grotto of Lourdes in Silesia. Her publications include “Wiarą tchnące obrazy”. Studia z dziejów malarstwa religijnego na Śląsku w XIX wieku (2004); “The calvaries in Silesia and the former county of Kłodzko (Glatz)” (2006), “XIX-wieczne malarstwo religijne jako przedmiot badań historii sztuki. Problemy i postulaty badawcze” (2009).

Małgorzata Haładewicz-Grzelak

Małgorzata Haładewicz-Grzelak (b. 1966) is a senior lecturer at Politechnika Opolska 〈 〉. Her research interests include cultural semiotics and Beats-and-Binding phonology. Her publications include “Canonical syllable structures proposed for English and Spanish: A contrastive overview” (2010); “Dynamic modeling of visual texts: a relational model” (2011); “Social rhetoric in the iconography of Saint Nicholas” (2011); and “Cultural codes in the iconography of Saint Nicholas” (2011).

Published Online: 2013-06-07

Published in Print: 2013-06-06

Citation Information: Semiotica, Volume 2013, Issue 195, Pages 197–248, ISSN (Online) 1613-3692, ISSN (Print) 0037-1998, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/sem-2013-0034.

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Małgorzata Haładewicz-Grzelak and Joanna Lubos-Kozieł
European Journal of Cultural Studies, 2014, Volume 17, Number 6, Page 647

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