Amanda Montell

Amanda Montell

Thursday, April 21 | 7:00 PM | Central Library

Amanda Montell is a writer, language scholar, and podcast host from Baltimore. She is the author of two critically acclaimed nonfiction books: Cultish: The Language of Fanaticism and Wordslut: A Feminist Guide to Taking Back the English Language. Amanda's books have earned praise from The New York TimesThe Washington Post, The Atlantic, Kirkus Reviews, and more, and Amanda is currently developing Wordslut for television with FX Studios. Cultish is an indie bestseller, was named one of the best books of 2021 by NPR and other outlets, and was a Goodreads Choice Awards top 5 finalist. Amanda is also the creator and co-host of the podcast Sounds Like A Cult, which premiered in 2021 and peaked at #20 on Spotify's Top Podcasts in the USA.

In Cultish, Montell argues that the key to manufacturing intense ideology, community, and us/them attitudes all comes down to language. In both positive ways and shadowy ones, cultish language is something we hear, and are influenced by, every single day.

Through juicy storytelling and cutting original research, Montell exposes the verbal elements that make a wide spectrum of communities “cultish,” revealing how they affect followers of groups as notorious as Heaven’s Gate, but also how they pervade our modern start-ups, Peloton leaderboards, and Instagram feeds. Incisive and darkly funny, this enrapturing take on the curious social science of power and belief will make you hear the fanatical language of “cultish” everywhere.

As a reporter and essayist, Amanda's writing has appeared in Marie Claire, Cosmopolitan, Teen Vogue, Refinery29The Rumpus, and Who What Wear, where she formerly served as the Features & Beauty Editor. She holds a degree in linguistics from NYU and lives in Los Angeles with her partner, plants, and pets

Cultish Large

Event Info

  • Admission is free.
  • Doors open at 6:00 PM.
  • Seating is first-come, first-served.
  • Free parking is available:
    • In the Des Moines Public Library parking garage, located on Grand Ave.
    • On the surface lot on the corner of 10th St. and Grand Ave., across from the library.
  • At the end of the program, there will be a question and answer period. A book signing will follow.
  • Books will be available to purchase before and after the program courtesy of Beaverdale Books.