Mind over Memes

Diana Senechal (Author)


Too often our use of language has become lazy, frivolous, and even counterproductive. We rely on clichés and bromides to communicate in such a way that our intentions are lost or misinterpreted. In a culture of "takeaways" and buzzwords, it requires study and cunning to keep language alive. In Mind over Memes: Passive Listening, Toxic Talk, and Other Modern Language Follies, Diana Senechal examines words, concepts, and phrases that demand reappraisal. Targeting a variety of terms, the author contends that a "good fit" may not always be desirable; delivers a takedown of the adjective "toxic"; and argues that "social justice" must take its place among other justices. This book also includes a critique of our modern emphasis on quick answers and immediate utility. By scrutinizing words and phrases that serve contemporary fads and follies, this book stands up against the excesses of language and offers engaging alternatives. Drawing on literature, philosophy, social sciences, music, and technology, Senechal offers a rich framework to make fresh connections between topics. Combining sharp criticism, lyricism, and wit, Mind over Memes argues for judicious and imaginative speech.

Product Details

Rowman & Littlefield Publishers
Publish Date
October 15, 2018
6.1 X 0.8 X 9.3 inches | 1.0 pounds
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About the Author

Diana Senechal is an educator and author whose writing has appeared in The New Republic, Education Week, American Educator, and The New York Times. Senechal is the 2011 winner of the Hiett Prize and the author of Republic of Noise: The Loss of Solitude in Schools and Culture (Rowman & Littlefield Education, 2012), which was a Choice Outstanding Academic title.


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
Overall, the text is well illustrated, thoughtful, and clear, with examples that distinguish between mind-set and theory. An alluring choice for readers with an academic bent.--Library Journal
This concisely argued book will be of interest to anyone who wishes to deconstruct the truisms that infect so much public discourse.--Publishers Weekly