Congress (2020) “Transformations: Signs and their Objects in Transition”

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    Congress (2020) “Transformations: Signs and their Objects in Transition”

    16th International Congress 2020 of the German Society for Semiotics (DGS) e.V. “Transformations: Signs and their Objects in Transition” (Chemnitz, 22 to 26 September 2020)

    In order to realize its goals, the German Society for Semiotics (DGS) e.V. organizes conferences, colloquia, workshops, courses or lecture series on the topics of its sections (areas of work). In addition, the DGS hosts an international congress every three years. Within the framework of the 16th International Congress 2020 “Transformations: Signs and their Objects in Transition” (Chemnitz, 22 to 26 September 2020) invites the “Fashion” section to submit proposals for contributions to its panel.

    Call for Papers

    As the literary scholar Roland Barthes stated, the language of fashion usually refers first and foremost to itself. It’s all about variety and formal differences: sometimes the skirt is long, sometimes it’s short, sometimes the suit has a narrow cut, then it’s wide again. Barthes sees the explicitly signifying aspect above all in the comments that accompany fashion from the outside and thus lend it a voice. From this point of view, fashion would therefore not be a primarily signifying system that wants to send out messages, for instance in comparison to art. Nevertheless, it can be observed that fashion has for some years been increasingly taking a stand on certain issues that concern society. Clothes are used as media to place messages on the surface of the body. On the one hand, this happens in everyday life: political movements define their affiliation via clothing or can be classified via their appearance, for example the “orange revolution” or the “yellow vests”. On the other hand, the catwalk is used to place messages within the fashion system: T-shirts with the inscription “We are all Feminists” are shown at fashion shows, or designers are committed to sustainability through vegan collections that signal this perceptibly. Even though fashion has always drawn on the reservoir of signs of culture and society, the question arises as to what this circulation of signs does with the signs themselves on the one hand and what it does on the other hand on the involved sides.

    This panel deals with the issue of which sign processes are carried out when explicit (or implicit) messages occur in fashion – will the signs become aesthetic ornaments or are they able to retain their possible political expressiveness within the framework of fashion? Which messages can be transported in fashion at all? Are religious symbols excluded from fashion or are they simply deprived of meaning as soon as they appear in fashion? Can fashion even change the appearance of religions in the end? Why is clothing functioning as a means of expression for political movements? Does the topic of sustainability charge fashion with new “content”?


    Information on organization and procedures

    The congress will take place from 22 to 26 September 2020 at the Chemnitz University of Technology.

    Contact: Prof. Dr. Petra Leutner:


    Conception oft he DGS Conference:

    Prof. Dr. Ellen Fricke (, Professur Germanistische Sprachwissenschaft, Semiotik und Multimodale Kommunikation, Technische Universität Chemnitz.
Organisation: Matthias Meiler ( Martin Siefkes (, Jana Bressem and Daniel Schöller. Further informations:

    Hochschule Fresenius AMD Akademie Mode & Design

    Nationally recognized and accredited by: