Textile Semantics: Considering a Communication-based Reading of Textiles

Sonja Andrew

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


This paper explores several areas of existing theory and research to consider a communication-based reading of textiles. The theoretical framework for this paper is based in semiotics as defined by Barthes, Saussure et al., and seeks to exploit methodologies based in semiotics and communication theory to analyze the construction of meaning through textiles, acknowledging textiles as "cultural signifiers," and suggesting communication as a paradigm in which textiles can be critically located and discussed. To understand the communication potential of textiles in terms of shared interpretations of object and context, the paper also incorporates research examples from product semantics and material culture studies. The term "textile semantics" in this paper is therefore used to describe the examination of the communicative qualities in textiles which inform the generation and exchange of meaning between the textile practitioner and the viewer. The communication functions of historical textiles such as toile de jouy and tapestry are discussed, and the influence of textile content on the reading of contemporary textile examples is also considered.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)32-65
Number of pages34
JournalTextile: The Journal of Cloth and Culture
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2008
Externally publishedYes


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