Marcel Danesi

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Marcel Danesi (born 1946) is a 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, the official journal of the International Association for Semiotic Studies, and is a past-president of the Semiotic Society of America.


Danesi is the author of multiple books. His published work considers the semiotic and anthropological aspects of emoji, popular culture, puzzles, crime, youth, and a range of other topics.

His 2016 book The Semiotics of Emoji traces the use of emoji back to its anthropological and sociological roots. Reviewing the book in the journal Semiotica (of which Danesi himself has been editor-in-chief since 2004), Omonpee W. Petcoff wrote: "The author purposefully and masterfully presents semiotics principles and pedagogy in non-technical terms. The outcome is a text that, while rich in semiotics fundamentals and terminology, is also inviting, engaging, and, accordingly, accessible to diverse readers."[2] Internet linguist Gretchen McCulloch's analysis of the book in her review in the Canadian Journal of Linguistics, however, found it was "riddled with elementary errors" and "shoddy citation practices."[3] The details of her analysis are publicly available in the Twitter thread review she posted on her account in August 2018, on which the journal review was based.[4] In 2017, The Semiotics of Emoji was one of four books shortlisted for the BAAL Book Prize, awarded annually by the British Association for Applied Linguistics.[5]

Danesi's work has been featured in a range of mainstream publications such as The New York Times, The Guardian[6] and The Globe and Mail.[7][8]


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.


  1. ^ "Prof. Marcel Danesi". Collaborative Program in Semiotics: Faculty. University of Toronto. Retrieved August 8, 2017.
  2. ^ Petcoff, Omonpee W. (2019). "Review of The semiotics of emoji: The rise of visual language in the age of the Internet". Semiotica: Journal of the International Association for Semiotic Studies: 335–340. doi:10.1515/sem-2017-0143.
  3. ^ McCulloch, Gretchen (2019). "Review: Marcel Danesi. 2017. The semiotics of emoji: The rise of visual language in the age of the internet". Canadian Journal of Linguistics. doi:10.1017/cnj.2019.18.
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  5. ^ "BAAL Book Prize 2017 shortlist". British Association for Applied Linguistics. 30 August 2017. Retrieved 7 February 2020.
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