What does it mean to be a scientist and a genius? Thomas A. Sebeok (1920-2001), Indiana University Distinguished Professor emeritus of linguistics and semiotics, described himself as an academic Apis mellifera (honeybee), who darts "solitary from flower to flower, sipping nectar, gathering pollen from flowers, serendipitously fertilizing whatever he touches.” The inquisitive polymath and world-renowned pioneer in semiotics taught linguistics, anthropology, and Uralic and Altaic studies at Indiana University from 1943-1991. This exhibition investigates the intellectual intersections Sebeok inhabited, pollinated, and mastered during his extraordinarily prolific career. Sebeok challenges us to see all, learn all, and never stop asking questions.
Thomas A. Sebeok and the Scientific Self
- Correspondence with intellectual giants including Umberto Eco, Noam Chomsky, Roland Barthes, Julia Kristeva, and Meyer Schapiro
- Correspondence with primatologists Jane Goodall and Francine Patterson, trainer of Koko the gorilla
- Materials from the World War II-era Army Specialized Training Program in languages at IU (1943-1946)
- Correspondence and materials from the founding of Indiana University's Department of Uralic and Altaic Studies (now the Department of Central Eurasian Studies) and Research Center for Language and Semiotic Studies (1956-1965)
- Brochures and visual materials from institutions ranging from the august (e.g. the International Association of Semiotic Studies) to the eccentric (e.g. Committee for Skeptical Inquiry)