Research Group for Cultural Iconography and Semiography

Titus Andronicus Project
The Multimedia Titus Andronicus Project
Adrienne Kennedy Project
The Multimedia Adrienne Kennedy Project
Macbeth Semiography
The Semiography of Macbeth







Researchers working in the fields of iconography, iconology and semiotics founded the Research Group for Cultural Iconology and Semiography under the auspices of the English Department of the University of Szeged in 2001. The interdisciplinary program of the group is grounded in the long-standing research of tradition-based cultural representations (such as the work of the “Warburg School”), and in the poststructuralist theories of visual representation and the postsemiotics of the speaking subject. It programmatically aims at uniting the traditions of semiotic and iconographic studies and various related workshops that have been functioning in association with the Faculty of Arts at the University of Szeged for several decades now. These research groups included:

  • the semioticians of the 1960s and 1970s lead by Zoltán Kanyó, Árpád Bernáth, and Károly Csúri, editors of important volumes of the periodical Studia Poetica;
  • the Warburgian circle of iconography and hermeneutics, established in the early 1980s by Tibor Fabiny, József Pál, and György E. Szőnyi, editors of the series Ikonológia és Műértelmezés [Iconology and Interpretation];
  • and the de-Kon Group which introduced important poststructuralist trends in Hungary around the 1990s.

The findings of iconography and iconology are recontextualized by semiography in the new theoretical framework of poststructuralist semiotics in response to the linguistic as well as the visual turn which have been constitutive of new trends in critical thinking since the early 1980s. Semiographic research sheds light on the historically specific metamorphoses of cultural representations and modes of symbolization in the cultural imagery of society. It maps out the semiotic logic in cultural practices and the ideologies that govern the social circulation of texts and images and thus form the mediatization of culture.

Areas of focus and specialization within our research activities include image/word relations and other analogies between early modern and postmodern culture, Shakespearean studies, the dramatic and theatrical practices of early modern English culture, the traditions of the occult and their interrelationship with literary and cultural practices, emblematology, and the poststructuralist theories of visual and multimedial representation.

Other than introducing in Hungary the new findings of semiography, cultural iconology and the theories of the visual turn through translations, anthologies and diverse publications, the Research Group has also been active in organizing national and international conferences and publishing original research in the outlined areas. After several years of coordinated and focused research, the foundation of the Group was formally announced at the national conference Word and Image [Szó és kép] in 2001 in Szeged. Between 1997 and 2000 an immediate predecessor of the group was the Hungarian Research Board-supported project, “The Iconology and Semiotics of Early Modern Culture” (directed by Gy. E. Szőnyi).

Among other research activities, the introduction of semiographic methodology also relies on the multimedia studies that are carried out in the English Department, applying a performance-oriented semiotic approach to the dialectic of dramatic text and performance text. These multimedia projects produce web-based interactive multimedia study tools in order to help students and researchers study dramatic texts, and to demonstrate in a hypertextual system the polysemous representational logic of the theater, which also operates through several sign channels. Directed by Attila Kiss, we have worked on The Crucible project in cooperation with the Szeged National Theatre, and on The Titus Andronicus Project in cooperation with The University of Hull, The British Council and various Hungarian theatre companies.

The following list includes the most important events and publications that have emerged under the auspices of the Research Group:


  • Jágónak VII. Ki merre tart a magyarországi Shakespeare-kutatásban? [Current directions in Shakespeare criticism in Hungary], (Inter)national conference, Szeged, 2019. (The first conference in this series was held in 2007.)
  • Life-Writing and Shakespeare Studies. A Colloquium with Marshall Grossman. Szeged, 2008.
  • Iconography East and West IV: The Iconology of Law and Order. International conference, Szeged, 2008.
  • Image – Text – Film. Visual Representation in the Multimedia Age. International conference with Hans Belting and W. J. T. Mitchell. Szeged, 2006.
  • Theorizing the Other in Early Modern Studies. A Colloquium with Patricia Parker and Alan Sinfield. Szeged, 2004
  • Iconography East and West III: The Iconography of Gender. International conference, Szeged, 2003.
  • Szó és kép [Word and Image]. National conference, Szeged, 2001.

related to the activities of the research group or its forerunners:

  • Essays on the Medieval Period and the Renaissance: Things New and Old, edited by Ágnes Matuska and Larisa Kocic-Zámbó. Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2019.
  • Ki merre tart? Shakespeare Szegeden 2007-2011, edited by Kiss Attila and Matuska Ágnes. Szeged: JATEPress, 2013.
  • Ágnes Matuska. The Vice-Device. Iago and Lear’s Fool as Agents of Representational Crisis. Szeged: JATEPress, 2011 (In Papers in English and American Studies, Monograph series).
  • Attila Kiss. Contrasting the Early Modern and the Postmodern Semiotics of Telling Stories. Lewiston, New York: Edwin Mellen Press, 2011.
  • Mitchell, W. J. T. A képek politikája. Válogatott írások [The Politics of Images. Selected Writings of W.J.T. Mitchell]. Ed. György E. Szőnyi and Dóra Szauter. Szeged: JATEPress, 2008 (Ikonológia és műértelmezés 13).
  • Attila Kiss, György E. Szőnyi, ed. The Iconology of Gender I-II. (I: Traditions and Historical Perspectives, II: Gendered Representations in Cultural Representations). Szeged: JATEPress, 2008 (Papers in English and American Studies 15).
  • Attila Kiss. Protomodern – Posztmodern. Szemiográfiai vizsgálatok [Protomodern – Postmodern. Semiographic investigations]. Szeged: JATEPress, 2007 (Ikonológia és műértelmezés 12).
  • György E. Szőnyi. Pictura & Scriptura. Hagyományalapú kulturális reprezentációk huszadik századi elméletei [Twentieth-century theories of tradition-based cultural representations]. Szeged: JATEPress, 2004 (Ikonológia és műértelmezés 10).
  • Attila Kiss, György E. Szőnyi, ed. Szó és kép. A művészi kifejezés szemiotikája és ikonográfiája [Word and image. The semiotics and iconography of artistic expression]. Szeged: JATEPress, 2003 (Ikonológia és műértelmezés 9).
  • Márta Barótiné Gaál, Attila Kiss, György E. Szőnyi, ed. The Iconography of the Fantastic. Szeged: JATEPress, 2002 (Papers in English and American Studies 10).
  • Katalin Demcsák, Attila Kiss, ed. Színház-szemiográfia. Az angol és olasz reneszánsz színház és dráma szemiotikája és ikonográfiája [Theater-semiography. The semiotics and iconography of English and Italian Renaissance theater and drama]. Szeged: JATEPress, 1999 (Ikonológia és műértelmezés 8).
  • Attila Kiss, ed. Iconography in Cultural Studies. Szeged: JATE English Department, 1996 (Papers in English and American Studies 7).
  • György E. Szőnyi, ed. European Iconography East & West. Selected Papers of the Szeged International Conference, June 9-12, 1993. Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1996 (Symbola & Emblemata 7).