Diana Senechal's book, Republic of Noise: The Loss of Solitude in Schools and Culture, was released in January 2012. In this book, 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," Senechal examines the role of solitude in public life, creative work, and the life of the mind. The book calls not for drastic changes but for subtle shifts: an honoring of the things of solitude, such as literature, science, art, friendship, and matters of conscience.
Senechal is the 2011 winner of the Hiett Prize in the Humanities, awarded by the Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture. In October 2011, she delivered two Hiett Prize lectures at the Dallas Institute and was interviewed on the KERA talk show "Think." She returned to the Dallas Institute in February 2012 to speak at its Education Forum.
Her education writing has appeared in 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.
From 2005 to 2009, Senechal taught in the New York City public schools. In her first year, she directed her students, all English language learners, in a production of The Wizard of Oz. Michael Winerip wrote an article about the production ("Courage? Follow the Yellow Brick Road," New York Times, June 14, 2006). From there, in addition to teaching regular classes in ESL and theater, she directed students in productions of Oliver!, Into the Woods, and, at an elementary school, A Midsummer Night's Dream. Senechal previously taught Russian as a graduate student at Yale and as a Mellon Fellow at Trinity College in Hartford. Her first teaching experience was in the summer of 1983, when she taught elementary school on the Crow Reservation in Montana. In the summer of 1993, she taught English to teenagers and adults in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan.
Senechal holds a Ph.D. 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 the International Czesław Miłosz Festival in 1998.
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, she worked as an editor and took classes in acting and improvisational theater. She plays cello; writes poems, stories, and songs; and enjoys memorizing poetry in various languages. While in Brooklyn, she founded a literary journal, Sí Señor, which she edited and ran for five years.
Senechal has contributed to several education projects. She helped with the editing and documentation of Diane Ravitch's most recent 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. She has given presentations to principals and teachers in New York City.
She is a Fellow of the Dallas Institute and a member of PEN, ALSCW (Association of Literary Scholars, Critics, and Writers), and the Education Writers Association. In July 2011, she joined the faculty of the Dallas Institute's Sue Rose Summer Institute for Teachers. She teaches philosophy and Russian at Columbia Secondary School for Math, Science & Engineering in New York City. She lives in Brooklyn.