Massimo Leone

Massimo Leone is Full Tenured Professor ("Professore Ordinario") of Semiotics, Cultural Semiotics, and Visual Semiotics at the Department of Philosophy and Educational Sciences, University of Turin, Italy and Permanent Part-Time Visiting Full Professor of Semiotics in the Department of Chinese Language and Literature, University of Shanghai, China.

He is a 2018 ERC Consolidator Grant recipient, the most important and competitive research grant in Europe.

He graduated in Communication Studies from the University of Siena, and holds a DEA in History and Semiotics of Texts and Documents from Paris VII, an MPhil in Word and Image Studies from Trinity College Dublin, a PhD in Religious Studies from the Sorbonne, and a PhD in Art History from the University of Fribourg (CH). He was visiting scholar at the CNRS in Paris, at the CSIC in Madrid, Fulbright Research Visiting Professor at the Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley, Endeavour Research Award Visiting Professor at the School of English, Performance, and Communication Studies at Monash University, Melbourne, Faculty Research Grant Visiting Professor at the University of Toronto, “Mairie de Paris” Visiting Professor at the Sorbonne, DAAD Visiting Professor at the University of Potsdam, Visiting Professor at the École Normale Supérieure of Lyon (Collegium de Lyon), Visiting Professor at the Center for Advanced Studies at the University of Munich, Visiting Professor at the University of Kyoto, Visiting Professor at the Institute of Advanced Study, Durham University, Visiting Professor at The Research Institute of the University of Bucharest, Eadington Fellow at the Center for Gaming Research, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, Fellow of the Käte Hamburger Kolleg „Dynamics in the History of Religions Between Asia and Europe“ (Bochum, Germany), Visiting Senior Professor at the Internationales Forschungszentrum Kulturwissenschaften, Vienna, High-End Foreign Expert and Visiting Professor at the University of Shanghai, China,  Visiting Senior Professor at the Centre for Advanced Studies, South Eastern Europe (Croatia), and Visiting Senior Professor at the Polish Institute of Advanced Studies, Warsaw (PIASt).

His work focuses on the role of religion in modern and contemporary cultures. Massimo Leone has single-authored eight books, _Religious Conversion and Identity: The Semiotic Analysis of Texts_ (London and New York: Routledge, 2004; 242 pp.), _Saints and Signs: A Semiotic Reading of Conversion in Early Modern Catholicism_ (Berlin and New York: Walter de Gruyter, 2010; 656 pp.),  _Sémiotique de l'âme_, 3 vols (Berlin et al.: Presses Académiques Francophones, 2012), _Annunciazioni: percorsi di semiotica della religione_, 2 vols (Rome: Aracne, 2014, 1000 pp.), _Spiritualità digitale: il senso religioso nell'era della smaterializzazione_ (Udine: Mimesis, 2014), _Sémiotique du fundamentalisme: messages, rhétorique, force persuasive_ (Paris: l’Harmattan, 2014; translated into Arabic in 2015), and _Signatim: Profili di semiotica della cultura_ (Rome: Aracne, 2015, 800 pp.), and _A Cultural Semiotics of Religion_ (in Chinese) [Series “Semiotics & Media”] (Chengdu, China: University of Sichuan Press, 2018, 210 pp.), edited thirty collective volumes, and published more than four hundred articles in semiotics and religious studies. He has lectured in Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, and the Americas.

He is the chief editor of Lexia, the Semiotic Journal of the Center for Interdisciplinary Research on Communication, University of Turin, Italy, and editor of the book series “I Saggi di Lexia” (Rome: Aracne) and “Semiotics of Religion” (Berlin and Boston: Walter de Gruyter). He directed the MA Program in Communication Studies at the University of Turin, Italy (2015-2018) and is currently vice-director for research at the Department of Philosophy and Educational Sciences, University of Turin, Italy.

Research project: Democracy and Trolling in Internet Threads (DETROIT)

DETROIT singles out and describe the main rhetorical ingredients of trolling through contrasting it with comparable discursive practices: provocation, joke, defensive anonymity, critical public discourse, controversy, and lie.

The following elements are hypothesized to play a major role in the discursive construction of trolling: topic-insensitive provocation; time-boundless jest; sadistic hierarchy of sender and receiver; anonymity of both the troll and their audience; choral character of the “actant observer” of trolling; construction of artificial contradictory semantics; disruption of argumentative logics; irrelevance of the relation between beliefs and expressions.

Trolling, it is contended, profoundly disrupts the conversational ethics of the human civilization because it severs expression from content, signifier from signified, and communication from intention.

Dates of stay: 01 October 2019 - 29 February 2020