A Dio: A sociosemiotic/phenomenological account of the formationof collective narrative identity in the context of a rock legend’s memorial

Southern Semiotic Review 5 (1):81-125 (2015)
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God is dead, but, contrary to Nietzsche’s diagnosis, ‘we’ didn’t kill him; he died of cancer. This perhaps crudely cold and off-putting opening does not refer to a naively metaphorically constituted transcendental abstraction, but to a spatio-temporally situated rock legend, Ronnie James Dio. This study aims at contributing to the burgeoning research field of memory and collective identity by providing a sociosemiotic account of the formation of collective narrative identity. By drawing on the three major categories whereby collective memory is formed, that is artifacts, processes, places, as well as on the three key sociosemiotic metafunctions which are responsible for shaping a cultural event as sign system, the pursued interpretive route seeks to effectively contextualize how collective memory is fleshed out situationally in the context of Dio’s memorial. At the same time, by expanding the interpretive canvass to incorporate phenomenological perspectives on the mode of formation of collective memory, the offered analytic is intent on tracing invisible structures that point to operative mechanisms beyond the formal constraints of a sociosemiotic reading. Both phenomenological and sociosemiotic approaches are reinscribed within an overarching narrativity paradigm, wherein their relative merits in addressing the scrutinized phenomenon are discussed in an attempt to formulate a hybrid sociosemiotic phenomenological perspective of memorial events.

Author's Profile

George Rossolatos
Universität Gesamthochschule Kassel


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