The Semiotics of Serial Dependence

  • Valentina Pisanty Università di Bergamo
Keywords: Seriality, Addiction, Reading for the plot, Narrative world-making, Identification


In everyday conversation and on the Internet there is a great deal of discussion about the addictive effects of TV series, especially with reference to the latest continuous serials (such as Game of Thrones, Homeland, House of Cards and the like) that seem to encourage binge-watching even more than their predecessors did. Many commentators compare such compulsive activity to drug abuse, and a recent research in psychology (Hoon Hi Sung, Eun Yeon Kang, Wei-Na Lee 2015) links this phenomenon to depression. But how accurate (or how metaphorical) is the flat equivalence between binge-watching and the more standard forms of intoxication? This paper analyses the vast phenomenology of serial addiction from a semiotic point of view, in a bid to distinguish between different styles of immersive fruition, from the solitary and omnivorous TV binges that may indeed generate individual feelings of inadequacy to the intense social activity that surrounds specific TV cults. To what extent may we attribute such a range of attested interpretive strategies to the structure of the texts themselves in relation to plot, world-making and character construction? And how may our prolonged immersions in the worlds of seriality impact on the way we perceive the actual world?


Download data is not yet available.


Bandirali, Luca – Terrone, Enrico, Filosofia delle serie tv. Dalla scena del crimine al Trono di spade, Milano, Mimesis, 2013.

Barbieri, Daniele, “Autore modello e racconto seriale”, Semiotica: teoria, storia, interpretazione, Eds. Giovanni Manetti – Patrizia Violi, Milano, Bompiani, 1992: 357-369.

Cardini, Daniela, “Il telecinefilo. Il nuovo spettatore della Grande Serialità televisiva”, Tecnologia, immaginazione, forme del narrare, Eds. L. Esposito – E. Piga – A. Ruggiero, Between, IV.8 (2014): 1-30.

Caretti, Vincenzo – La Barbera, Daniele (eds.), Le dipendenze patologiche. Clinica e psicopatologia, Milano, Raffaello Cortina, 2005.

Caretti, Vincenzo – Di Cesare, Gianluigi, “Psicodinamica delle dipendenze”, Caretti – La Barbera 2005.

Eco, Umberto, Lector in fabula, Milano, Bompiani, 1979.

Eco, Umberto, “L’innovazione nel seriale”, Sugli specchi e altri saggi, Milano, Bompiani, 1985: 125-146.

Eco, Umberto, Sulla letteratura, Milano Bompiani, 2002.

Genette, Gérard, Seuils, Paris, Seuil, 1987, trad. it. Soglie. I dintorni del testo, Torino, Einaudi, 1989.

Giglioli, Daniele, Stato di minorità, Roma, Laterza, 2015.

Graham, Jacob – Sparrow, Tom (eds.), True Detective and Philosophy, Hoboken (NJ), Blackwell, 2016.

Greene, Richard – Reisch, George – Robinson, Rachel (eds.), Dexter and Philosophy: Mind Over Spatter, Chicago, Open Court, 2011.

Innocenti, Veronica – Pescatore, Guglielmo (eds.), Le nuove forme della serialità televisiva. Storia, linguaggio e temi, Bologna, Archetipolibri, 2008.

Jacoby, Henry (ed.), Game of Thrones and Philosophy: Logic Cuts Deeper Than Swords, Hoboken (NJ), Wiley, 2012.

Jauss, Hans Robert, Ästetische Erfahrung und literarische Hermeneutik, Frankfurt am Main, Suhrkamp, 1982, trad. it. Esperienza estetica ed ermeneutica letteraria, Bologna, Il Mulino, 1987.

Kermode, Frank, The Sense of an Ending: Studies in the Theory of Fiction, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1967.

David Koepsell – Robert Arp, Breaking Bad and Philosophy: Badder Living through Chemistry, Chicago, Open Court, 2012.

Hackett, J. Edward, House of Cards and Philosophy: Underwood’s Republic, Hoboken (NJ), Wiley-Blackwell, 2015.

La Barbera, Daniele, “Le dipendenze tecnologiche. La mente dei nuovi scenari dell’addiction ‘tecnomediata’”, Caretti – La Barbera 2005.

Maio, Barbara, La terza Golden Age della televisione: autorialità, generi, modelli, Roma, Sabinae, 2009.

Sung, Yoon Hi – Kang, Eun Yeon – Lee, Wei-Na, “A Bad Habit for Your Health? An Exploration of Psychological Factors for Binge – Watching Behavior”, 65th International Communication Association, San Juan, Puerto Rico, 2015.

Thompson, Robert J., Television’s Second Golden Age. From Hill Street Blues to E.R., New York, Continuum, 1996.

Volli, Ugo, Fascino. Feticismi e altre idolatrie, Milano, Feltrinelli, 1997.

Volli, Ugo (ed.), Culti TV. Il tubo catodico e i suoi adepti, Milano, Sperling & Kupfer, 2002.

How to Cite
Pisanty, V. (2016). The Semiotics of Serial Dependence. Between, 6(11).