Coordinator - prof. Claudio Paolucci


The research group in Semiotics continues a tradition of studies initiated by Umberto Eco and Patrizia Violi in the 1990s within the Department of Philosophy and Communication at the University of Bologna. The main research topics are a general theory of semiotics and theory and philosophy of language.

The group carries out – mainly within the research centre TraMe ( – studies on memory and cultural heritage, and – as part of the International Centre for Enactivism and Cognitive Semiotics ( – research on the relationship between perception and language, how language constitutes and shapes subjectivity, and the ways in which the semiotic tradition can provide contributions to contemporary debates on “how we come to know the world” (Eco 2012), organising it through texts and languages and shaping our experience through meaning.

The research group in Semiotics at the Department of Philosophy and Communication currently has four active research projects funded by the European community, with a total grant amount of over one million euros:

  1.  NeMo Project -
  2. MeMe Project –
  3. FakeSpotting Project -
  4. Brand New Inclusion Project -

In particular, during the last few years, the research group in Semiotics has focused its attention on the following research topics:

  • General theory of Semiotics, with emphasis on the role of subjectivity in language and the semiotic theory of enunciation (Persona, Bompiani, Milan, 2020) and the theoretical foundations for a new paradigm of cognitive semiotics (Cognitive Semiotics, Springer, Dordrecht, 2021).
  • Memory, with a focus on the between cultural systems, narratives and collective memory, but also with an interdisciplinary look towards ethnography and the semiotic analysis of space. 
  • Truth and Falsity. This subject of research is developed specifically: 
    i) in the European project Erasmus+ Fakespotting (GA 2020-1-IT02-KA203-079902, P.I Claudio Paolucci,, which aims to investigate the mechanisms of disinformation and those of fact-checking, in relation to the phenomenon of post-truth;
    ii) in a PhD project funded by Fondazione Carisbo concerning the role of experts in the public communication of science during the Covid-19 pandemic (Flavio Valerio Alessi). 
    iii) in a PhD project in which misinformation phenomena are investigated through the philosophical problem of information overload and the semiotic problem about shared interpretative paradigms (Marco Giacomazzi).
  • Psychopathology and Enactivism. Research in this area is addressed:
    i) in a European Erasmus+ project NeMo (2019-1-IT02-KA201-063340, P.I Claudio Paolucci,, whose goal is to provide a pre-screening tool for children between 9 and 18 months in order to detect the presence of early signs of Autism Spectrum Disorder;
    ii) in a PhD project aimed at investigating the semiotic dimension of schizophrenia starting from the clinical-diagnostic aspects up to the most relevant manifestations of the disorder (language, self-disorders, delusions) (Luigi Lobaccaro).
    iii) Enactive Cognitive Science and Spatiality: This project is investigated by a PhD student and focuses on developing an interdisciplinary model of spatial cognition using neuroscience, phenomenology and cognitive semiotics from within a framework of enactive cognition (John Sykes). This project also focuses on spatial disorders present in ASD, connecting it with the research output of the NeMo 
  • Inclusion, Learning and Digital Education.
    i) The European project Brand New Inclusion aims to identify an overview of open-ended applications used before and after the pandemic, as well as the most interesting digital practices used for the involvement of students with special educational needs, with a focus on multicultural/multilingual classrooms. The project was selected by the University of Bologna as one of the nine testimonial projects for the 5x1000 campaign in 2022. 
    ii) This theme was investigated in a PhD project focused on the study of semiotic and cognitive processes fundamental to the acquisition of reading and writing (Paolo Martinelli).
  •  Disability. This topic is addressed in relation to representations of people with disabilities on social media and the concept of inclusivity in the European project Erasmus+ MeMe (GA 2019-1-LT01-KA204-060697, 
  • Artificial Intelligence and Robotics. This topic is investigated in a PhD project funded by the Department of Computer Science and Engineering (DISI) of the University of Bologna, by focusing on the study of the interaction between humans and robots, with particular attention to the Uncanny Valley Effect phenomenon (Martina Bacaro). In addition, the NeMo project dedicates one of its constituent parts to the construction of an AI system related to the analysis of interaction, in collaboration with DEI and in particular with the research group led by Professor Stefano Diciotti.


Martina Bacaro

PhD Student

Research fellow

Marco Giacomazzi

PhD Student

Luigi Lobaccaro

Research fellow

Paolo Martinelli

Adjunct professor

Research fellow

Francesco Mazzucchelli

Associate Professor

John James Sykes

PhD Student


  • Fausto Caruana (CNR, Parma)
  • Andrea Valle (Unito)