Mind over Memes


In a culture of buzzwords and takeaways, it takes study and cunning to keep language alive—and thus to sustain public and private life. In Mind over Memes: Passive Listening, Toxic Talk, and Other Modern Language Follies, Diana Senechal lifts up words, concepts, and phrases, shakes away their errors, and proposes durable meanings. Drawing on literature, philosophy, music, and technology, Senechal dissects clichés regarding change; praises the virtues of a "good misfit" (as opposed to a "good fit"); questions the omnipresence of the "team"; upends the adjective "toxic"; argues that "social justice" must take its place among other justices; and more. Combining criticism, lyricism, and wit, Mind over Memes argues for judicious and imaginative speech.

Mind over Memes was released by Rowman & Littlefield on October 15! It can be purchased through Amazon, the Rowman & Littlefield website, and Book Culture (536 W. 112th St., NYC).

Tuesday, October 30, 6:00 p.m., Dallas: The book celebration will take place at the Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture, at 6 p.m. Please reserve tickets in advance; also, you can read the Q&A.

November 1–4, Vanderbilt University, Nashville: Copies will be available at the ALSCW Conference.

Sunday, November 18, 6:30 p.m., Budapest: Reading and discussion at Massolit Books

Friday, February 22, 2019, NYC: Reading and discussion at Book Culture (536 W. 112th St.).

“Diana Senechal is a unique voice in American education today—energetic, inquisitive, and always curious for the next experience that might surprise her into thought. When she detects a fallacy in received ideas like 'implicit bias' and 'the toxic personality,' or in clichés like 'the takeaway,' she looks under the surface and asks what could have led us there. These essays are the work of a born teacher and a gifted observer of our intellectual culture.”

—David Bromwich, author of Moral Imagination: Essays

“Woe to peddlers of bromides, quick fixes, and slogans. Begone, TED talk mountebanks and jargon-mongers. Diana Senechal strides through the marketplace of compromised words, examining the wares with devastating lucidity, inviting the reader to skepticism and thoughtful critique. This book shows what it is to have a free mind.

—Rosanna Warren, author of Ghost in a Red Hat: Poems