Reviews provided by Syndetics
These two welcome additions to the semiotic literature approach the subject from very different perspectives. Reading Images constructs a taxonomy of visual message formats. Visual displays such as advertisements and children's drawings are painstakingly dissected according to the manner in which they are arranged. The authors manage to distinguish 86 structural categories, which are realized according to 53 different "modes." This precision is both the strength and the weakness of the book. It is a strength in that the process of describing the distinctions between categories reveals layout itself to be a grammar; it is a weakness because the system becomes unwieldy under the cumulative weight of so many segmentations. Kress and Van Leeuven follow in the footsteps of such authors as Goran Sonesson, who are also interested in describing features of the visual sign and the nature of how arrangement conveys meaning. From the standpoint of psychology, the standard for this kind of treatment is Rudolf Arnheim's Art and Visual Perception (1954), which remains indispensable. Arnheim is easier to read than the present title, which is suitable at the specialist and graduate level. McHoul comes at semiotics from another direction completely. He argues that minute descriptions of grammar and visual layouts miss the target, and that what is needed is an explanation of how communities use signs effectively in day-to-day operation. McHoul's book is based on pragmatics. He defines a sign as a methodical activity that solves a particular sociological problem within a community of users. Given the chance, McHoul would criticize the approach taken in Reading Images as one that "totalizes" in its attempt to reach the taxonomy for all analysts. McHoul wants to do just the opposite: construct a view that allows a much more open range of interpretations. His is a far-reaching book, well argued, persuasively and provocatively written. His work fits into the discourse of poststructuralism and deconstruction. A real delight to read, McHoul's book should find a place in graduate and research collections, beside the works of Roland Barthes, Foucault, and Derrida. It should also be read in contrast to the work of such structural anthropologists as Clifford Geerz, Edward T. Hall, and Claude Levi-Straus. Both Reading Images and Semiotic Investigations are worth owning, but those who must choose one or the other should go with McHoul. S. Skaggs University of Louisville
Author notes provided by Syndetics
Inspired by Enid Blyton, Martina Reilly started writing when she was eight years old and hasn't stopped since. At eleven years of age, she started writing a series entitled The Gang for the amusement of her friends. Four years later, she found herself working on a novel based on a character from The Gang: Book Four . This book was published years later as Livewire , which won an International White Raven Award and was sold to Germany, Italy and France. More teenage books followed, including Dirt Tracks which won a Bisto Merit Award and was shortlisted for an RAI reading award.
Martina has been writing adult fiction for the past ten years. She enjoys writing for the stage too, and many of her plays have been performed by amateur dramatic groups. Martina is also a drama teacher and actress.
She lives in Kildare with her husband and their two children.