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The Princess of Asturias Foundation

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Umberto Eco

Prince of Asturias Award for Communication and Humanities 2000

Umberto Eco (Alessandria, Piamonte, Italy, 1932 – Milán, Italy, 2016),  had a Doctorate in Philosophy from the University of Turin. He worked in cultural programmes at the RAI from 1959, and focused his work towards publishing and the essay form in 1959. He was assistant lecturer in Aesthetics between 1962 and 1965, first at Milan and then at Turin University. During this time he also commenced his activities in what was called "The Group 63", publishing essays on contemporary art ("The Open Work" -"Opera Aperta"- in 1962), mass culture and the media ("Apocalypse Postponed" - "Appocalittici e Integrati"-, 1965), and collaborating in different publications. He then worked as professor of Semiotics at the University of Bolonia, where he was Head of the Department of Philosophy. He created the University School of Humanistic Studies there, which opened this 8th February. The "Superschool", as it is called in Italy, is a new academic initiative for outstanding graduates only, aimed at spreading International Culture. He is also secretary, and founder, of the International Association of Semiotics.

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He published his first novel, "La Struttura Assente", in 1968. It dealt wholy with the theme of semiotics, and led on to his most complete work on the subject, the "A Theory of Semiotics" - "Trattato di Semiotica Generale"-, in 1975. However, fame amongst the general public came in 1980, through a novel, "The Name of the Rose", which won several awards and was then made into a film. He then published "Foucault's Pendulum" (1988), "How to travel with a Salmon and other Essays" - "Il Secondo Diario Minimo"- (1992), "The Limits of Interpretation" (1992), "The Island of the Day before" (1994), "Six Walks in the Fictional Woods" (1996) and "Kant and the Platypus" (1997), as well as other texts.

He is doctor honoris causa at 25 universities worldwide, holds numerous decorations and awards, such as France's Legion of Honour, and has given conferences and university courses on five continents. In 1992 he was appointed member of the UNESCO's Forum of Wise Men, and in 1998 he joined the European Academy of Yuste.

Umberto Eco died on 19 February, 2016.

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