Semiotics is a relatively new field of academic study; old-fashioned scholars such as Julian and Henry would be particularly galled to learn that Classics was being phased out in favour of this. Semiotics, or Semiology, involves the study of signs in terms of culture, linguistics, literature and communication. It came to prominence in the twentieth century, after philosophers such as Ferdinand de Saussure, Louis Hjelmslev, Roland Barthes and Umberto Eco developed the field.
Fundamentally, Semiotics is concerned with the relationship between a particular thing, the word or picture that has come to represent it, and the people who communicate between themselves the idea of this particular thing using the word or picture. For example, it questions the seemingly arbitrary relationship between the word 'tree' and the real trees it can represent.