Marcel Danesi

Marcel Danesi (born 1946) is a current Professor of Semiotics and Linguistic Anthropology at the University of Toronto.[1] He is known for his work in language, communications, and semiotics; being Director of the Program in semiotics and communication theory. He has also held positions at Rutgers University (1972), University of Rome "La Sapienza" (1988), the Catholic University of Milan (1990), and the University of Lugano.

He is the Editor-in-Chief of Semiotica: Journal of the International Association for Semiotic Studies and is a past-president of the Semiotic Society of America.

Major works

Marcel Danesi is the author of over 100 books. His works consider the semiotic and anthropological aspects of emoji, popular culture, puzzles, crime, youth, and a range of other topics.

His book Semiotics of Emoji published in 2016 for the Bloomsbury Advances in Semiotics Series, helps further our understanding of the visual language of emoji (Japanese for picture-word). Rather than dismissing emoji as a tool for the uninformed, Danesi traces back to the anthropological and sociological roots of human cognition by discussing the creative and logical sides of the brain at work in the use and creation of this new visual language. [2]

He is a pioneering figure in the introduction of the disciplinary subspecialty of forensic semiotics. In 2013 he published Signs of Crime: Introducing Forensic Semiotics.

His works typically offer readers an approachable invitation to the use of semiotics to help explain everyday phenomena. For instance, his book Quest for Meaning: A Guide to Semiotic Theory and Practice provides readers with a simple three-fold way of considering semiotic inquiry as trying to answer "What does it Mean? How does it convey meaning? And Why does it mean what it means?" [3]

Danesi is a public intellectual and has been featured or contributed to a range of mainstream publications such as the New York Times The Guardian [4] and The Globe and Mail[5] [6]


Selected publications:

  • 2016 The Semiotics of Emoji: The Rise of Visual Language in the Age of the Internet. Bloomsbury Academic.
  • 2015 Popular Culture: Introductory Perspectives, 3rd ed. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield. Pp. xi, 330.
  • 2013 Signs of Crime: Introduction to Forensic Semiotics. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.
  • 2013 The History of the Kiss: The Birth of Popular Culture. New York: Palgrave-Macmillan.
  • 2013 Discovery in Mathematics: An Interdisciplinary Approach. Munich: Lincom Europa.
  • 2013 (with Antonio Nicaso). Made Men: Mafia Culture and the Power of Symbols and Ritual. Rowman & Littlefield.
  • 2013 Encyclopedia of Media and Communication. University of Toronto Press.
  • 2008 Why It Sells: Decoding the Meanings of Brand Names, Logos, Ads, and Other Marketing and Advertising Ploys. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield.
  • 2007 The Quest for Meaning: A Guide to Semiotic Theory and Practice. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.
  • 2004 Messages, Signs, and Meanings: A Basic Textbook in Semiotics and Communication,3rd ed. Toronto: Canadian Scholars Press.
  • 1993 Vico, Metaphor, and the Origin of Language. Indiana University Press.


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