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 CROSS - Centro di Ricerca Omar Calabrese di Semiotica e Scienze dell'immagine

CROSS is the inter-university research center established among the Alma Mater Studiorum - University of Bologna, the University of Siena and the Iuav University of Venice, in order to promote, coordinate, implement and enhance research and studies on the semiotics of the arts and of the image, as well as initiatives aimed at their diffusion in Italy and abroad.


Centro di Ricerca Omar Calabrese di Semiotica e Scienze dell’immagine

The name of the Research Centre is dedicated to the memory of Italian semiotician Omar Calabrese, who was the mentor and colleague of many of the founding members. This reference inscribes the activities of the research group in the field of visual semiotics, focusing on the analysis of cultural objects, from art to media, from audiovisual to design, from painting to practices. It also underlines the openness and dialogue with other disciplinary horizons such as art history and theory, aesthetics, anthropology, visual studies.  

In the Italian context, the foundation of a research center dedicated to Semiotics and Image studies aims first and foremost to give impetus and visibility to a research tradition and methodology that has always focused on what has now become a strategic issue in the humanities: the need to grasp, acknowledge and explore the "visual intelligence" of objects, i.e. their ability to generate sense through their peculiar way of appealing to the qualities of different supports, materials, articulations. The focus is thus the modes of production of sense articulated by and in the image, as well as the semiotic and anthropological question of the efficacy or "agency" of images. 

While the image understood in its material dimension remains a crucial research object, the semiotics of the image questions the status of what we call "image" at the intersection and translation between different languages and media, between the spheres of materiality and imagination, cultural memory and synchronic models. It explores the dynamics of the generation of meaning starting from the plurality of images in their inescapable cultural, formal and material specificity as historically situated objects, yet postulating a system of meaning immanent to them. 

The project of a semiotics of images meets here a theory of art that has explored and constructed "theoretical objects": a heuristic of individual objects, capable of grasping the theoretical horizon that those same objects summon, not as an external conceptual horizon, but as a set of operations and immanent structures. Among these operations, we remember some consolidated semiotic issues: the ways of relation between image and observer, the ways of circulation of images in the cultural and social space, the ways of production of figurative and plastic sense interacting with the representational/figurative status of the image.

Cross Info


The expression scienze dell'immagine (tr. science of images) in the name of the Centre is then to be understood as a project of investigation of the object, its structure and its production of meaning; a project for which semiotics has always claimed a scientific and methodologically solid status. This vocation to the analysis of the meaning immanent to objects can be found today, albeit with obvious differences with respect to the semiotic paradigm, in various fields of study that keep focusing on the question about the meaning of images. Translating from the German-speaking world, we can lead those traditions back to a "science of images". Among the implications common to these approaches, there is the need to overcome a 'historicist' approach that is often incapable of thinking about the complex dynamics of meaning and of critically re-examining the temporal dynamics, both of the objects themselves and of the historical models. From this point of view, the Centre aims at dialoguing with the scholars who, in Italy and abroad, deal with these themes and work in these areas of research.

Scienza delle immagini


CROSS Research Centre aims at strengthening the research activities concerning an area of study, that of visual semiotics, which has a long tradition in the three member universities (University of Siena, University of Bologna, IUAV of Venice). This area of research has become crucial in years which saw an intensification of image studies, with the Anglo-Saxon horizon of Visual Studies and Visual Culture Studies, the Bildwissenschaft of the German-speaking area and the French Ontology of images, as well as the French structuralist history and theory of arts, the latter having always been in dialogue with semiotics. To effectively fit into this horizon of research - which has seen in the last twenty years important affirmations with the birth of numerous programs and academic centers dedicated to the theory and criticism of images - requires coordination among three Italian universities that have long been dealing with this area of study.

Consigli e collaboratori

Board of Directors

The inter-university research centers provide a directing board consisting of three structured professors for each participating university as the main governance body.







Scientific Committee


Luca Acquarelli Université de Lille
Maria Cristina Addis Università di Siena
Giulia Ceriani Università di Bergamo
Elisa Coletta Sapienza - Università di Roma

Massimiliano Coviello Università degli studi Link Campus

Stefano Jacoviello Università di Siena

Valentina Manchia Alma Mater Studiorum - Università di Bologna
Francesca Polacci Università di Siena

Miriam Rejas del Pino Università Ca' Foscari Venezia

Giacomo Tagliani Università di Palermo
Mirco Vannoni Università di Palermo
Francesco Zucconi Università IUAV di Venezia

Home: Carte semiotiche


Carte Semiotiche is an international and interdisciplinary semiotic and theory of image academic magazine focused on images and their ways of producing meaning.

Carte semiotiche wants to be a place for reflection to welcome and encourage the plurality of points of view on the visual and sensitive dimension of languages ​​and cultural objects.


Its monographic volumes, with annual output, each develop a theoretical focus that conveys distinct academic traditions and hosts the contributions of both young researchers and established scholars.


Semiotic papers privileges the orientation to the text and the analytical dimension of the research, in the belief that textual analysis is the most useful tool for the comparison between the different disciplinary approaches, as well as for an effective and respectful theoretical elaboration of singularity and density. of the objects with which it is confronted.



Administrative Headquarter

Via Roma 56, 53010 Siena (SI)

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