Eco, Umberto (b. 1932) Semiotician known for his conception of semiotics as a philosophy of language and for deploying semiotics in the service of a wide range of cultural criticism. Umberto Eco continues cheerfully to present himself as a semiotician at a time when semiotics as a discipline appears vulnerable. Not only has poststructuralist criticism encroached on the semiotic domain of signification and interpretation but in the process it has also rendered problematic the sign itself as an area of critical investigation. Eco's response to such criticism has been to develop a more flexible theory of semiotics. A Theory of Semiotics (1976) and The Role of the Reader (1979) were highly influential early texts in promoting the philosophical implications of Eco's semiotic position, the latter in particular being enthusiastically adopted by Anglo-American reader-response critics as theoretical confirmation of the primacy of the reader in textual interpretation. Eco subsequently reinterprets his theoretical stance in Semiotics and the Philosophy of Language (1984) while at the same time developing his position as an essayist and a novelist. This development is figured in his best-selling novel The Name of the Rose (1983) (later filmed), and in two subsequent commentaries on the novel that outline an interpretive framework for the production and evaluation of literary texts. This fictional turn to the medieval is followed by theoretical texts dealing explicitly with both medieval aesthetics and medieval theories of the sign. Concurrently, Eco conducts a semiotic exploration of various modern cultural sites, ranging from museums to theater, in Travels in Hyperreality (1986) and The Limits of Interpretation (1990).