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Marcel Danesi is known for his work in language, communications, and semiotics; being Director of the Program in Semiotics and Communication Theory, and is also a Professor of Semiotics and Linguistic Anthropology at the University of Toronto, Canada. He has also held positions at Rutgers University (1972), The University of Rome "La Sapienza" (1988), the Catholic University of Milan (1990), and the University of Lugano.


Marcel Danesi is of Italian descent. He has authored numerous publications which are esteemed in the field of semiotics and advertisement alike.

He has moved from an interest in languages both as a lecturer and an author (including Learn Italian the Fast and Fun Way (1985); Adesso: A Functional Introduction to Italian (1992); Con fantasia: A Functional Review of Italian with M. Lettieri and S. Bancheri (1995, 2nd Edition 2003 ) to an interest in semiotics, continuing research into second-language learning and how language adapts to environment.

He was particularly interested in the Italian community in Southern Ontario where the transplanted language became an ethnic dialect. In making this transition, he has retained in interest in accessibility so his more recent texts aim to strike a balance between theoretical sophistication and user friendliness. For example, Of Cigarettes, High Heels, and Other Interesting Things: An Introduction to Semiotics is written around a video vignette of modern day courtship rituals, relating theory to cultural contexts that most can identify with. While the result is not always successful in that he does not explain how his selections from social history illuminate semiosis, nor demonstrate how readers might practice the theories of Saussure or Charles Peirce, the book has become a popular introductory text among students. He is also interested in improving understanding of how to structure remedial mathematics tuition which has led him into a study of the puzzle as a semiotic phenomenon through history.

He was made a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada in 1998, founded a research center (Center for Communication and Information Sciences) and is currently the editor in chief of Semiotica.

Personal Life

Professor Danesi is married to his longtime sweetheart. He has a family, consisting of a daughter, a son-in-law, a grandson, a granddaughter, who reside in the United States. His son-in-law is an urban geography professor. He is an avid musician/pianist with a great love of classical musicians like J. S. Bach, Beethoven and Mozart as well as contemporary musicians.


His publications include:

  • Neurolinguistica e glottodidattica. (1988)
  • Cervello, lingua, ed educazione. (1988)
  • Vico, Metaphor and the Origin of Language. Bloomingdon: Indiana University Press. (1993),
  • Cool: The Signs and Meanings of Adolescence. University of Toronto Press. (1994),
  • Giambattista Vico and the Cognitive Science Enterprise. (Emory Vico Studies edited series, Volume 4). New York: Peter Lang Publishing, (1995)
  • Of Cigarettes, High Heels, and Other Interesting Things: An Introduction to Semiotics (Semaphores and Signs). New York: Palgrave. (1999)
  • Analyzing Cultures: An Introduction and Handbook (Advances in Semiotics), with Paul Perron. Bloomingdon: Indiana University Press. {1999)
  • The Forms of Meaning: Modeling Systems Theory and Semiotic Analysis with Thomas A. Sebeok. Mouton de Gruyter (2000)
  • Encyclopedic Dictionary of Semiotics, Media, and Communications (2000).
  • The Puzzle Instinct: The Meaning of Puzzles in Human Life. Bloomingdon: Indiana University Press. (2002),
  • Forever Young: The Teen-Aging of Modern Culture. University of Toronto Press. (2003)
  • La metafora nel pensiero e nel linguaggio. (2003).
  • The Liar Paradox and the Towers of Hanoi: The Ten Greatest Math Puzzles of All Time. Wiley (2004).
  • Messages, Signs, and Meanings: A Basic Semiotic Textbook in Semiotics and Communication Theory (2004)
  • A Basic Course in Anthropological Linguistics (2004)
  • Brands (2006)
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