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Provost Brings Semeiotics Book on Tour to China

SUNY Plattsburgh Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs James Liszka knows China well. After all, he’s visited the country a dozen times.

But never as an author on a book tour. 

In early July, Liszka presented as the keynote speaker at a conference at Sichuan University in Chengdu on semiotics — the study of signs and symbols —focusing on the difference between meaning and information. The university also hosted a launch party for his book, “A General Introduction to the Semeiotic of Charles S. Peirce,” written in 1996 but which was recently translated into Korean and Chinese. Liszka then traveled to Beijing Normal University for an event July 6.

Liszka said the Chinese, who are known for valuing languages, are getting increasingly interested in the central theory he discusses in his book. He added that unlike their government, the Chinese people are notably receptive of Americans.

“And they want an author’s signature,” he said, smiling.

Liszka has studied semiotics his entire career. He earned his Ph.D. from the New School for Social Research in New York City in 1978 and has taught at several colleges in New York. He is professor emeritus from the University of Alaska Anchorage, where he received the Excellence in Teaching Award in 1998 and the Chancellor’s Award for Outstanding Research in 1999.

Chengdu is the capital city of China’s Sichuan Province, located about 1,200 miles inland from Shanghai. About 70,000 students attend the university.

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