About Diana Senechal


In Republic of Noise: The Loss of Solitude in Schools and Culture, Diana Senechal criticizes the emphasis, in our schools and beyond, on group work, rapid activity, and instant results. Arguing that "the chatter of the present, about the present, cannot always grasp the present," she examines the role of solitude in public life, creative work, and the life of the mind. Her second book, Mind over Memes: Passive Listening, Toxic Talk, and Other Modern Language Follies, will be published by Rowman and Littlefield in October 2018.

As of November 2017, Senechal teaches English, American civilization, and British civilization at the Varga Katalin Gimnázium in Szolnok, Hungary, through the Central European Teaching Program. You can read about this on her blog. When not teaching, planning, or writing, she may be biking on Eurovelo 11, attending concerts and plays, or doing volunteer work for the Budapest Festival Orchestra.

From 2011 to 2016, she taught philosophy, created philosophy courses, led philosophy roundtables, and served as philosophy coordinator at Columbia Secondary School. In February 2014, her students released a philosophy journal, CONTRARIWISE, which which now has released four annual issues and enjoys international readership and participation. The journal is featured in her most recent article in American Educator. In May 2017, through a collaboration and correspondence that grew out of CONTRARIWISE, Senechal taught for two weeks at the Sainte Pulchérie Fransız Lisesi in Istanbul.

In her first year of public school teaching, she directed her students, all English language learners, in a production of The Wizard of Oz, which Michael Winerip describes in "Courage? Follow the Yellow Brick Road" (New York Times, June 14, 2006). She continued to teach ESL for three more years before leaving her position to write Republic of Noise. After finishing the book in 2011, she joined the faculty of Columbia Secondary School for Math, Science & Engineering.

Senechal is the 2011 winner of the Hiett Prize in the Humanities, awarded by the Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture. She holds a PhD in Slavic Languages and Literatures from Yale; she wrote her dissertation on Nikolai Gogol. Her translations of the Lithuanian poetry of Tomas Venclova have appeared in two books, Winter Dialogue (1997) and The Junction (2008). She read her translations at PEN America's "Writers in Exile" event in 1988 and at the International Czesław Miłosz Festival in 1998.

Her education writing has appeared in Room for Debate (New York Times), Education Week, The New Republic, Double X, American Educator, Educational Leadership, and several leading education blogs, including GothamSchools, The Answer Sheet (Washington Post), Joanne Jacobs, The Core Knowledge Blog, and The Cronk of Higher Education. Her article about education philosopher Michael John Demiashkevich was published in American Educational History Journal, vol. 37, no. 1 (2010), and was selected as AEHJ's Article of the Year.

Senechal has contributed to several education projects. She helped with the editing and documentation of Diane Ravitch's book The Death and Life of the Great American School System (Basic Books, 2010). In December 2009, she served on the English Language Arts Work Team for the Common Core State Standards Initiative; in 2010 she was project writer and curriculum drafter for the Common Core Curriculum Mapping Project. In addition, she contributed to the Thomas B. Fordham Institute's report The State of State Standards—and the Common Core—in 2010.

Senechal has spoken on numerous radio programs and at venues around the U.S. In 2012, she delivered the principal address at the Annual Meeting of the National Association of Schools of Music; in 2013, she was a keynote speaker and panelist at the Annual Meeting of the National Association of Schools of Art and Design; and in 2014, she gave the keynote address at the Annual Meeting of the National Association of Schools of Dance. In April 2014, she took part in a discussion of solitude on BBC World Service's program The Forum. In April 2016 she gave a talk, "Take Away the Takeaway (Including This One)," at TEDx Upper West Side.

She is a Fellow of the Dallas Institute and has taught on the faculty of the Dallas Institute's Sue Rose Summer Institute for Teachers since July 2011. She serves on the council of ALSCW (Association of Literary Scholars, Critics, and Writers).

Her interests have allowed her to pursue a rich variety of occupations. In San Francisco, she worked as an editor, counselor, and computer programmer; in her own time she played music and took courses in animation, screenwriting, and film acting. In Tucson and New York City, before teaching, she worked as an editor and took classes in acting and improvisational theater. She founded a literary journal, Sí Señor, which she edited and ran for five years.

She has studied cantillation (leyning) on her own (with the help of several tutors) and at the Jewish Theological Seminary. As of December 2, 2017, she serves as chazzanit (female chazzan) of Szim Salom in Budapest.

In addition to writing, teaching, and cantillation, she plays cello; writes poems, stories, and songs; and enjoys memorizing poetry in various languages.

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