Research Article

The Roots of Textual Agency

The Semiotics of Motivation and Demotivation

Massimo Leone    Università degli Studi di Torino, Italia | University of Shanghai, China    



This introductory essay deals with the origins of textual agency and inertia. Texts predominantly work as indexes, icons, or symbols, according to Peirce’s typology of signs. These three types usually exert agency to an increasing extent. The essay seeks to determine the origin of this gradient in the dialectics between motivation and arbitrariness. The more a text is received as motivated, the likelier it is that it might exert a strong agency. This hypothesis leads also to an articulation of the rhetorics of motivation or de-motivation through which communities of interpreters can promote or demote the agentive force of a certain text.

Dec. 6, 2018

Keywords: SemioticsTextArbitrarinessInertiaMotivationAgency

Copyright: © 2018 Massimo Leone. This is an open-access work distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction is permitted, provided that the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. The license allows for commercial use. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.