Centre for Languages and Literature

The Joint Faculties of Humanities and Theology | Lund University


I am Professor of Semiotics at Lund University, where I direct the Semiotics Seminar since 1986, and head of the Centre for cognitive semiotics, starting in 2009. I am the initiator of the doctorate in semiotics at Lund University which formally begun its existence in 1998.

I was the first president of the Swedish Society for Semiotic Studies (sffs) and president of the Nordic Association for Semiotic Studies (NASS) 1992-2012, as well as Secretary General of the International Association for Visual Semiotics (IAVS/AISV) since 2001.

I hold a doctorate in general linguistics from Lund University, and a doctorate in semiotics from École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales in Paris. From 1974 to 1981, I was a member of the Groupe de recherches sémio-linguistiques, directed by A.J. Greimas, where I headed a section concerned with gestures. Between 1981 and 1982, I conducted research in semiotics and linguistics in Mexico, particularly as applied to Mayan languages and culture.


About the research

After I had graduated in general linguistics in Lund in 1978 and in semiotics in Paris the same year, I have mostly been involved in semiotic research. Semiotics is the science of meaning, not only in language. Most of the time I have been concerned to visual semiotics, the semiotics of gesture, cultural semiotics, the epistemology of semiotics, psychological-semiotic experiments with children and apes, and more, recently e, with evolutionary semiotics.

Since I returned to Sweden from France and Mexico in 1983, I have established semiotic research in this country. The focus of my research has recently been on the evolution and development of semiotic resources in human beings and children, first in the context of the project Language, Gestures and Images in a Semiotic Developmental Perspective (SGB), in collaboration between semiotics and linguistics and cognitive science, followed by the EU project Stages in the Evolution and Development of Sign Use (SEDSU), which was a collaboration with psychologists, primatologists and linguists in several parts of Europe, and most recently in the Centre for Cognitive Semiotics, which included representatives of semiotics, linguistics and several other human sciences at Lund University. My most recent project, The Meeting of Them and Us (MATUS), involved encounters between cultures in terms of cultural semantic terms, divided into two periods, the discovery of other continents and present time.

My book Pictorial concepts (Lund: Lund University Press 1989) has gained international recognition as a fundamental contribution to visual semiotics. In Swedish, I have also published the first comprehensive textbook that exists in any language in visual semiotics, Bildbetydelser (Lund: Student Literature 1992). I have also been one of the editors, with a special focus on visual semiotics, for Encyclopedia of Semiotics, published by Oxford University Press in 1998, for which I have also written many entries. I am the author of the overviews of pictorial semiotics in the Encyclopedic Dictionary of Semiotics, Sebeok, T. A., & Danesi, M. (eds). Berlin; New York: De Gruyter Mouton 2010. and in the Handbook of Visual Communication, Machin, D. 23-50. Berlin: DeGruyter 2014, as well as of the semiotics of photography in the International Handbook of Semiotics. Trifonas, P. (ed.), 417-483. Berlin: Springer 2015. Together with David Dunér, I published in 2016 Human Lifeworlds: The Cognitive Semiotics of Cultural Evolution. Frankfurt / M .: Peter Lang.

I was one of the founders of the Association internationelle de sémiotique visuelle in Blois 1989 and of the International Association for Cognitive Semiotics in Aarhus in 2013.


Books (4)
Editorships (4)
Articles (75)
Book chapters (44)
Prefaces (1)
Conference contributions (26)
Reports (2)
Working papers (7)
Reviews (1)
Supervision at Lund University (3)

Research portal (Lund University)

Göran Sonesson

Cognitive Semiotics
Centre for Languages and Literature

Contact information

E-mail goran.sonessonsemiotik.luse

Phone +46 46 222 95 31

Room SOL:H405c

Visiting address Helgonabacken 12, Lund

Postal address Box 201, 221 00 Lund

Internal post code 20