Marcel Danesi, Ph.D., was born in Lucca, Italy. A professor of semiotics and anthropology at Victoria College, University of Toronto, he directs the semiotics and communication theory programs. Danesi also holds an appointment at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education as professor and researcher in bilingual education. In 1998 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, the highest honor awarded to an academic, especially in education. His new book is The Total Brain Workout: 450 Puzzles to Sharpen Your Mind, Improve Your Memory, and Keep Your Brain Fit.
Danesi has been a visiting professor at Rutgers University (1972), the University of Rome "La Sapienza," the Catholic University of Milan, and has given lectures throughout the academic world. He has also held the chair of language and media studies at the University of Lugano.
As a professor of anthropology, he became intrigued by the ancientness of puzzles and their use in cultures throughout the world as tests of intelligence and creative imagination. Danesi has conducted extensive research on puzzles and has written a number of scholarly books on puzzles, semiotic, linguistic and pedagogical topics. Among his books are Increase Your Puzzle IQ (Wiley, 1997), The Puzzle Instinct (Indiana University Press, 2002), The Liar Paradox and the Towers of Hanoi: The Ten Greatest Math Puzzles of All Time (Wiley, 2004), Sudoku (Time Warner, 2006), Vico, Metaphor, and the Origin of Language (1993); Cool: The Signs and Meanings of Adolescence (1994); Giambattista Vico and the Cognitive Science Enterprise (1995) and La metafora nel pensiero e nel linguaggio (2003).
He has also authored and coauthored numerous language manuals for the study of Italian and Spanish, including Adesso: A Functional Introduction to Italian (1992; 2nd ed. 1996); Con fantasia: Reviewing and Expanding Functional Italian Skills (1995; 2nd ed. 2004; with M. Lettieri and S. Bancheri); and Learn Italian the Fast and Fun Way (1985).
He is editor in chief of Semiotica, and is also editor of various book series, including Toronto Studies in Italian Pedagogy and Applied Linguistics, Toronto Studies in Semiotics and Signs and Semaphors. He also teaches a course on puzzles at the university, which aims to examine every aspect of puzzles, and had the opportunity to work with neuroscientists and psychologists over several decades to design puzzle-based teaching and learning methods to help people learn better in various disciplines.
Danesi's work has been featured in the New York Times, Toronto Star, and Psychology Today among other print publications, and he has been a guest on several broadcast outlets including National Public Radio.