Нов български университет - Semiotics and Philosophy

Semiotics and Philosophy

Type Online program for continuing education
Nominal duration 1 year (45 ECTS transferable credits)
Study language English
Tuition fee 1.300 BGN per semester
Entry qualification BA or equivalent
Language requirements A good command of English (level B1-B2)


This is an online university program for continuing education in semiotics and philosophy. Through lectures and in-class discussions, the program aims to familiarize students with pragmatism and inquiries into knowledge, underpinned by semiotic methods of analysis.

Topics include: habit and habit-change, memory and imagination, social semiotics and social dimensions of emotions. Students will explore common ground between theoretical disciplines and empirical research, testing theories for their consequences. You will develop skills for analysing texts and examine possible applications of pragmatism.

The program enables you to participate in the Early Fall School of Semiotics based in Sozopol, an ancient seaside town located on the Bulgarian Black Sea Coast, where you will meet your teachers face-to-face and participate in workshops led by international scholars.

You will conclude with an in-depth piece of independent research on a topic of your choice.

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Learning objectives

Students will be familiar with pragmatism as a method for clarifying thought and its possible applications and have developed a capacity for philosophical argument about pragmatism and the concept of habit. You will have mastered the main debates on habit and memory and can think critically on various issues related to habit and memory. You will know the principal theories of moral emotions and can use your knowledge in actual research contexts. You will be familiar with the principles of the Paris Semiotic School and can analyse the meaning of any text you are interested in.



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Key features

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Contact for questions about the course:

Anita Kasabova
Maria Katsaridou



Ivan Mladenov’s course on Conceptualizing Symbols and Metaphors of Everyday Life aims to familiarise students with Charles Peirce’s views on the nature of scientific metaphors: how they extract disclosed knowledge and how new metaphors arise from philosophical concepts. You will explore how we conceptualize the world so that we may orient ourselves in it. We conceptualize what we constantly perceive; this a process of permanent de-coding and de-ciphering the realm of signs coming towards us.  We will examine why conceptualization emulates learning and experience. We will look at how newly obtained knowledge is “stored” in our memory and becomes a part of our previous experience.

In Mladenov’s course on Ideas of Knowledge, you will discuss the basic theories of knowledge from their classical Greek origin to current research. Starting with the pre-Socratics, the course proceeds via Plato and Aristotle through the Middle Ages, focusing on the differences between Byzantine philosophy, Greek thinkers and their Roman successors. We will overview the works of Augustine, Boethius, Aquinas, Scotus and Ockham and continue to the British empiricists: Locke, Berkeley and Hume. We will follow Descartes and Kant to the German idealists and review the so-called “modern philosophy” of the 19th century, focusing on Charles S. Peirce (1839 – 1914).

Mladenov’s course on Pragmatism aims to familiarize students with C. S. Peirce, considered by many as the greatest American philosopher, who invented pragmatism and American semiotics. We will also discuss the European tradition and its linguistic orientation, which originated with Ferdinand de Saussure and flourished in the 1960s, alongside Roland Barthes, Paul Ricoeur and Julia Kristeva. We will look at other historically well-formed schools, such as: M. M. Bakhtin and the Moscow-Tartu School with its famous notion of the “Semiosphere” and its recent inquiries into natural sign-phenomena. You will also become familiar with Umberto Eco’s semiotics and some Scandinavian schools. However, our main goal is to apply the avant-garde methods of modern semiotics for conceptualizing the world of ideas.

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Alexander Feodorov’s course on Pragmatism and Habits of Thought/Action aims to familiarize students with the history and development of pragmatism by focusing on a concept rarely given the attention it deserves: habit. We will look at the concept of habit in Peirce, William James, John Dewey, Chauncey Wright, Alexander Bain, and others.

“How do we cognize literature through pragmatism and semiotics?” “How do we cognize the world pragmatically through literature?” You will gain insight into these questions in Feodorov’s course on Pragmatism and Literature, which discusses the possible application of pragmatism and its theoretical framework to the field of literary studies. You will consolidate your knowledge of Peirce’s concept of metaphor and discover his notion of “the Play of Musement”.

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Why is habit a milestone in Peircean philosophy? Reni Yankova’s course on the dynamic universe - the role of habit and habit-change in Charles Peirce’s metaphysics provides students with an innovative approach to Peirce’s metaphysics by exploring the role of habit as a foundation of Peircean thought. You will study habit as a rule that not only underpins thinking & acting, but grounds the development of the universe, seen as a developing mind. We will also look at habit as the phenomenon that forms the exhausted layer of reality Peirce calls the “effete mind”. You will become familiar with the problem of habit-change in the light of Peircean philosophy and some classical authors. You will also learn how to formulate your own hypotheses about a concept only partially elaborated by Peirce himself.

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We call our ability to store meaning, memory. In Anita Kasabova’s course on Memory and Imagination, students will discover why these mental faculties play an important role in our knowledge of the world and of ourselves. We will explore how memory and imagination are interrelated. You will gain an understanding of autobiographical memory or how we conceptualize ourselves as having a personal identity. We will also discuss why memory often goes wrong. Imagination has had a bad press in philosophy and everyday life. We will review this bias in the light of research on memory knowledge, mental imagery and children’s imagination.

Emotions are a cognitive resource for moral issues. Emotions also have a social dimension. Kasabova’s course on Moral Emotions aims to familiarize students with research on emotions that motivate moral behavior. Shame, guilt, embarrassment, pride and regret involve our response to social norms and our evaluative self-perception: how we see ourselves as being seen. We will discuss the role of moral emotions across different cultures. Does guilt motivate us to “do the right thing”? Is our feeling of shame tied to our social reputation? You will explore specific moral emotions in your native linguistic and cultural background and compare the results to the findings in European and Western cultures.

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In Maria Katsaridou's course on Semiotics and Narrative, you will learn how to analyze texts as systems of meanings. The course aims to familiarize students with the Paris School of Semiotics, focusing on the theory and method of narrative analysis developed by its founder, Algirdas Julien Greimas. You will also learn how to apply narrative analysis in various types of texts (literature, film, video games, etc.) from their surface elements to their deep structure and meaning.

As we know, "messages" (text messages, films, photos, social networks posts and tweets) do not originate in a vacuum, but are produced by someone under specific social, cultural and historical conditions. Katsaridou's course Social Semiotics and Methods of Communication will familiarize students with the basic concepts and models of communication. You will explore various forms of communication, such as direct (e.g. speech), mediated (e.g. through a computer) or human-computer communication (e.g. artificial intelligence).

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The program offers a course with tutorials on English for Academic Purposes, taught by Anita Kasabova. This course aims to help students whose main language is not English, gain an understanding of this language in the academic and cultural context of their studies. English for Academic Purposes facilitates students' participation in subject courses. You will develop presentation and argumentation skills and write well-argued essays in an appropriately academic style. Online tutorials are available throughout the academic year.

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Early Fall School

The program enables you to participate in the Early Fall School in Semiotics based in Sozopol, an ancient seaside town located on the Bulgarian Black Sea Coast, where you will meet your teachers face-to-face and participate in workshops led by international scholars. We will engage in exciting debates and explore cross-curricular topics. You will be invited to discuss current philosophical themes with other students and teachers and advance your own arguments. You will work in small groups to critically analyze and evaluate a semiotic or philosophical topic and present it to an audience at the end of the course.

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Ivan Mladenov is a Professor (PhD and D.Sc.) at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences in Sofia. His chief topic of interest is the philosophy of Charles S. Peirce, on which he wrote a book, Conceptualizing Metaphors. On Charles Peirce's Marginalia, published by Routledge in 2006, republished in 2014. The book is translated into Japanese and was published by Keiso-shobo Ltd. in Tokyo in 2012. Mladenov taught Charles Peirce's philosophy as Guest-Professor in Salzburg (Austria); Helsinki (Finland); Bloomington (USA); Bremen, Lüneburg and Darmstadt (Germany). He delivers lectures in many countries across Europe and America. In 2018 he received the Pythagoras Award, Bulgaria's highest academic distinction. Email: mladenovivan@hotmail.com


Alexander Feodorоv, PhD, works at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences. In 2017 he defended his dissertation Pragmatism and Literature. Habit, Norm, Metaphor exploring the philosophy of Charles S. Peirce and its possible application in the fields of literary theory and the humanities in general. His future research project will focus on the least exploited part of Peirce’s philosophy – his esthetics. He was awarded a Fulbright scholarship in 2018. Email: a.n.feodorov@gmail.com


Reni Yankova, PhD, is Senior Assistant Professor at the South-East European Centre for Semiotic Studies at the New Bulgarian University in Sofia. Her main topic of interest is the philosophy of Charles Sanders Peirce, on which she has published several articles. Her monograph: Semiotic Orbits: Norm, Habit and Ritual in Charles Peirce’s Semiotics was published by the New Bulgarian University Press in 2018. Email: reni.iankova@gmail.com


Anita Kasabova, PhD, is Visiting Professor in Philosophy at Sofia University ‘St. Kliment of Okhrid’. She has published a monograph: On Autobiographical Memory (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2009) and numerous articles on topics in the history of logic and papers on various aspects of memory. Her research interests include memory studies and moral emotions. She is currently working on an interdisciplinary study of shame. Kasabova teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in philosophy and semiotics, and graduate courses in English for Academic Purposes. Email: anita.kasabova@gmail.com


Maria Katsaridou, PhD expected in 2018. Her PhD thesis is on Semiotics in Animation Films at Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. She is currently researching video games and interactive narrative.  She has taught courses in Scriptwriting and Storyboarding at Ionian University and Semiotics in Animation Films at Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. She also has experience in providing distance learning master classes. Since 2017 she serves as a judge at the (UA) Undergraduate Awards. She has published many articles and book chapters on Animation, Video games, Film, Narrative, Semiotics and Adaptation. Email: mkatsaridou@gmail.com


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