Cool: The Signs and Meanings of Adolescence / Edition 2

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Overview

The image of restless, apathetic, mopish, awkward teenagers who listen to loud, screeching music when they are not on the phone, and who insist on dressing, wearing their hair, and behaving exactly like the friends they cannot seem to live without, has become a fixture of the modern social landscape.

The emergence of certain behaviours (facial expressions, linguistic styles, dress codes, musical preferences, etc.) on the developmental timetable of children is a sign that they have entered a transitional period. The dramatic changes in physical appearance that occur during adolescence, and the emotional changes that accompany them, are traumatic. Teenagers naturally become inordinately concerned about their appearance and behaviour, and they believe that everyone is constantly observing them. This is why they talk all the time about how others act, behave, and appear. Language, dress, musical tastes, and other symbolic systems become the concrete means for identifying with peers. Teenagerhood is a socially constructed time-frame that channels the physiological and emotional changes that occur at puberty into patterns of symbolic behavior. These patterns are then reinforced by the media.

This book represents both a synthesis of Marcel Danesi's research on the semiotics of modern adolescence, and his own interpretation of the significance and implications of our teenage culture. It constitutes a semiotic portrait of the teenager and of the factors that have led to the construction of the teenage persona and culture.

Danesi makes a distinction between adolescence as psychobiological period of human growth and development and teenagerhood as a socially induced mindset that accompanies it. He focuses on the central behavioral trait of teenagerhood -- coolness; he defines it and discusses its emergence at or around puberty, and draws up an 'anatomy' of the behaviors associated with it. He discusses the language of teenagers, which he calls 'pubilect,' and concludes with observations on the etiology, evolution, and future course of teenagerhood. Cool is intended not only for semioticians, as a documentation of a specific form of social semiosis, but also for parents and educators, and for teenagers themselves.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780802074836
  • Publisher: University of Toronto Press, Scholarly Publishing Division
  • Publication date: 11/28/1994
  • Series: Toronto Studies in Semiotics and Communication Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 168
  • Product dimensions: 5.51 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.48 (d)

Meet the Author

Marcel Danesi is the director of and a professor in the Program in Semiotics and Communication Theory at Victoria College, University of Toronto.
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Table of Contents

Preface
1 A History of Teenagerhood 3
Adolescence vs. Teenagerhood 5
J.D. Salinger's Catcher in the Rye 15
The Fifties 17
The Sixties 22
The Seventies and Eighties 25
The Post-modern Teenager 30
2 The Emergence of Coolness 37
Signifying Osmosis 42
Body Image 46
Social Cognition 54
The Cliquing Phenomenon 56
Partying 66
3 An Anatomy of Coolness 69
Facial Appearance and Expression 70
Dress Codes 76
Musical Preferences 81
Smoking 85
Hanging Out 92
4 Pubilect: The Language of Teenagerhood 95
Pubilect vs. Slang 96
Features 98
Situational Focusing 110
Verbal Duelling 113
Cross-Cultural Comparisons 122
5 The Future of Teenagerhood 125
Teenagers and the Media 127
The High School 132
The Mythology of Childhood 133
The New Mythology of Teenagerhood 139
The World of the Post-modern Teenager: Catcher in the Rye or Clockwork Orange? 146
References 153
Index 165
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