Dr. Martin Siefkes

Martin SiefkesWelcome to my page! – I am a linguist currently working in Chemnitz. In 2010, I received my PhD from the University of Technology Berlin. From 2011 to 2013, I did research on topics in semantics and stylistics at the IUAV Venice. In 2014, I did a Postdoc research project at the University of Bremen, Institute of Applied Linguistics (John Bateman).

Since February 2015, I'm Research Associate at the Institute for German Linguistics of the University of Technology Chemnitz. It's been great from the start! In the area of Gesture Studies, our institute – lead by Ellen Fricke – belongs to the leading institutions in the world. Further focus areas are Multimodal Linguistics, Semiotics, as well as empirical and computational approaches to Virtual Environments and Interaction, all of which are highly innovative topics that are still underrepresented in Germany.

Currently I'm working on projects in Multimodal Linguistics and Digital Humanities. Further topics of my research are Experimental Aesthetics, Discourse Analysis, and Semiotics.

Current highlights

The new issue of the Journal of Semiotics looks at laughter and humour and their representation in various media. The issue is in German, but English abstracts for all articles are available here.

Deadline for abstract submissions: 20th Nov 2016: CFP panel “The Potential and the Limits of the Digital Humanities” at the 15th International Conference of the German Semiotics Society (DGS) “Borders: Contact – Communication – Contrast”, Passau, 12th–16th September 2017.

[Oct. 2016:] Back from the conference Transmediations! Communication across Media Borders, 13-15 October in Växjö, Sweden, which offered many fascinating talks and discussions. I gave a talk on virtual exhibitions. If you're interested in the conference, here are the tweets documenting it.

A short video [German] introducing our new BMBF-funded research project MANUACT, which investigates the connections between gesture, traditional crafts, and multimodal workplace interaction. I'm part of the MANUACT team since Aug. 2015.

[Dec 2015:] Together with Ralph Knickmeier from the Digital Belvedere, I've developed the new “Digital Humanities” section of the German Semiotics Society (DGS), which we will also lead.

Ars Electronica 2015: Diaspora Machine[Sept 2015:] The Ars Electronica 2015 gave me some new thoughts, especially regarding my work on intermodal relations.

[Aug 2015:] Editor of the Zeitschrift für Semiotik: I've been offered to edit the ZSem together with two great scholars, Roland Posner and Ellen Fricke. Working closely with two world-famous semioticians (Ellen is also a leading gesture researcher) is an honour – it will be inspiring and lots of fun!

[Aug 2015:] My talk in the multimodal argumentation panel (A. Tseronis, C. Pollaroli and C. Forceville) of the 14th International Pragmatics Conference in Antwerp asked: How do semiotic modes work together in multimodal argumentation? The tweets from the conference can be found here and here.

[June 2015:] Together with Ellen Fricke, I'll be at the workshop The Foundations of Linguistics. Languages as Abstract Objects in Braunschweig, where the new paradigm of „Realist Linguistics“ will be discussed. Here's our abstract. The workshop has a very impressive line-up, and I'm excited to meet those people and discuss with them!

[May 2015:] Quo vadis, semiotics? A discussion [German] of current criticisms and perspectives of semiotics. The validity of semiotic approaches has been criticised in philosophy, image studies, and aesthetics. At the same time, a revival of semiotics is taking place in media, gesture, and film studies.

Cover DiskursheftNew article on [German]: how can we generalise the principles that work so well in Free Software and Free Culture? Material peer-production, such as Open Hardware, FabLabs, and Hackerspaces, is rapidly growing. I've developed an idea on how such projects can cooperate. Let's take production in our own hands!

[December 2014:] For all who work in discourse, text, or film analysis and have some German: the Special issue “Neue Methoden der Diskursanalyse” of the Zeitschrift für Semiotik is now available!

Publisher's page with abstracts [EN / GE] of all contributions

On 330 pages, in 10 original research articles and a thorough introduction, innovative theoretic approaches and empirical applications in the field of discourse analysis are presented, and linked on the theoretical foundation of Linguistics, Semiotics, and Multimodality Research. Topics include quantitative film corpus analysis, visual and multimodal discourses, use of software for discourse visualization, formal discourse analysis, (post)colonial and metropolitan discourses. I've developed and edited this issue together with Doris Schöps. Here’s the introduction [DE].

M. Siefkes & D. Schöps (eds.) (2014), Neue Methoden der Diskursanalyse. Special issue, Zeitschrift für Semiotik 35, 3-4. [332 p.] ISBN: 978-3-95809-661-5 Order it here!

Older entries

[September 2014:] I've been awarded the DGS-Förderpreis 2014, and feel greatly honoured! The ceremony will be on Sept. 24th in Tübingen, as part of the general programme of the DGS congress.

[May 2014:] What happens when language, moving pictures and music interact in the perception of films? How do we interpret the relations between pictures, text and graphics in print media? Multimodality, the integration of various perceptual or semiotic modalities, is of growing importance in linguistics and semiotics; most texts and media in today’s cultures are multimodal. – Two important conferences on multimodality are scheduled for september 2014: an interdisziplinary conference at the University Bremen (10-13/09/2014) organized by Janina Wildfeuer, and the Multimodality section of the IASS congress in Sofia (16-20/09/2014) lead by Roland Posner, the famous German semiotician. Send us your abstracts, or come as a guest – it’s a fascinating topic!

[Sept. 2013:] A new article of Deutsche Welle online [DE] considers different aspects of the diary of Johannes Spiecker. The article reflects on Spieckers role as a witness of the Herero and Namaqua genocide. Hopefully, it will help to bring the topic back into public awareness. Sadly, no material in English yet exists apart from this short overview, but I'm working on an English-language paper on Spiecker's diary, focusing on the question of genocide and the new hints and information on this topic in Spiecker's diary (which is rare indeed, if one thinks of the scarcity of sources on this topic in general).

[June 2013:] My new book, „Sprache, Glaube und Macht“, has appeared; it deals with German colonial history in West Africa from the perspective of discourse analysis and cultural science. More information on the book is available here. You can order it from the publisher,, Amazon, or in your local bookstore.

24 Stunden BuchOn June 1st, 11.00 a.m., the Afrika-Haus Berlin presents the Diary of Johannes Spiecker, an important historical document recently published for the first time (more on the diary can be found here). I will read passages of the book and answer questions (press release).

[Feb 7, 2013:] A new essay [DE] which explains some points of the semiotic style theory I've developed in my doctoral dissertation.

[Dec 11, 2012:] At Dec 6, at the Technical University Berlin, a festschrift for Prof. Roland Posner was presented to the public, with contributions from scientists from a number of fields, many of them well-known experts and including a number of former students and colleagues, who deal with different aspects of his work. On this occasion, I've held the laudation [DE], which introduced his most important theories in linguistics, semiotics, and culture science. (More information on the festschrift volume can be found here, lowest entry.)

[Nov 15, 2012:] New books published: Cf. here.

[Feb 2012:] Don't miss: an interview with Bernie Horowitz about the unpublished recordings of Vladimir Horowitz and what might be done to preserve them.