Another belated book review for a volume published 16 years ago. Why now? Why not? The book is still in print and can be ordered from Amazon.
Massaging the Medium with Marshall McLuhan
By Frederik Sisa , May 17, 2013
A review of McLuhan for Beginners by W. Terrence Gordon, with illustrations by Susan Willmarth.
Perhaps it indicates a gap in my education, or merely underlines the fact that my reading list exceeds my lifespan. But my only exposure to Marshall McLuhan so far has been through his post-modern disciple Jean Baudrillard and pop-culture memes. Yet, like most people plugged into the cybernetic zeitgeist, I am firmly entrenched in the strong field of influence generated by McLuhan’s often pithy media theory. A book like McLuhan for Beginners, then, is a timely wakeup call to take a moment and consider one of the 20th century’s foremost media and culture theorists even if that consideration reveals – as it does with Baudrillard – a mixture of brilliance and puffery.
Driving a renewed interest in McLuhan’s ideas are the editor of the Marshall McLuhan Publishing Program at Gingko Press, and Dalhousie University Professor Emeritus, W. Terrence Gordon draws. In partnership with illustrator Susan Willmarth, he adds another winning entry in the For Beginners series of documentary comic books with an overview that presents often obtuse concepts with good humour and, more often than not, clarity. There’s some biographical information, of course, such as the factoid that McLuhan was an “obscure professor of English till he published Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man in 1964.” From that eventful detonation spawned a high-profile career that yielded not only pop-culture memes such as “the medium is the message,” but a series of books, lectures and academic efforts aiming at raising provocative questions about the media. Of that cryptic equivocation, we can at least find some relief to a cognitive itch. Gordon helpfully explains that the equation makes sense in view of McLuhan’s redefinition of “medium” as an extension of our bodies and “message” as “any change in scale, pace, or pattern that a medium causes in societies or cultures.” The traditional concept of informational content and means of transmission is thus set aside as an inadequate model of our interactions with the media, while the new equation provides a framework for a more fruitful investigation.
With this necessary elucidation in place, Gordon proceeds to sketch out McLuhan’s ideas on specific media such as radio, television and comic books, as well as broader concepts such as language, print versus digital formats, clichés and archetypes, and the laws of media. Taking full advantage of the comic book/illustrated text format, Gordon even goes beyond clarifying concepts to highlighting the often eccentric, almost post-modern methodological qualities of McLuhan’s work – or, rather, an anti-methodological approach that favors non-linear structures along with a rejection of sustained theses and fixed viewpoints.
The entire project does succumb to the stunning effects of high-capacity ideas delivered in a caffeinated chatterbox’s rapid-fire style. By the time Gordon tries to explain the application of McLuhan’s laws of media in the form of tetrads, the dazed sensation already has begun to set in (just like it’s probably setting in as you read this review). It’s interesting, from a conceptual standpoint, to consider how McLuhan’s four laws dealing with extension, obsolescence, retrieval and reversal work simultaneously to describe the effects of media. Yet as presented under the rubric of science, the question is raised about shenanigans of the interpretive kind. It becomes less clear that McLuhan is articulating concrete concepts rather than merely projecting his own subjective understanding. Suddenly, the impression – accurate or not – that McLuhan lacks a sense of intellectual rigour beneath his fragmentary insight becomes all the more pressing.
It is unfortunate, then, that Gordon gives scant attention to McLuhan’s critics, usually only going so far as to acknowledge their existence with a few broad strokes. “Faith in the power of the probe,” Gordon writes about one of McLuhan’s interrogative techniques, “allowed McLuhan to take stabs at a wide range of topics, from the serious to the ridiculous, without necessarily committing himself to conclusions or testing his hypotheses scientifically – a habit that infuriated his critics and detractors.” McLuhan’s response was to “glibly dismiss many of his critics in academe as hacks,” which hardly seems mature, only to be partly disowned in turn by his disciple, Wired Magazine, as an “eccentric intellectual whose day in the media spotlight had come and gone.”
Far from being a reason to reject Gordon’s view of McLuhan’s significance, and recognizing that the book is a presentation of McLuhan’s ideas, not a critical exposition, Gordon succeeds in creating a better reason to seek out McLuhan’s work than agreement, namely, the potential for a vigourous debate. Already, weaknesses in McLuhan’s ideas are apparent. In response to the High Priest of Popcult’s notion that speech is a non-verbal and pure process, unlike writing which is a medium of speech, one can wield Jacques Derrida’s criticism of Western metaphysics’ phonocentrism, the privileging of speech of writing that deconstruction works to undermine. To the Laws of Media and his “challenge to the scientific community to disprove them,” one can deploy philosophies of science to highlight McLuhan’s fundamentally unempirical and self-serving hermeneutics that conceptually declares itself un-falsifiable and, consequently, un-provable. It all makes for exciting philosophical debates. Crucially, it highlights Gordon’s ultimate argument for reviving McLuhan in our media-saturated age and what I conceive as the pervasiveness of hyperdata. “If we had to put McLuhan into one sentence, it could be this: He asks us ‘What haven’t you noticed lately?’” because “McLuhan doesn’t care if we ask different questions and come up with different answers than he did, as long as we discover something about our world and what is happening to it.”
With that attitude, Gordon’s accessible book becomes an admirable first step into that larger world of inquiry and, as with the best For Beginners books, serves as a persuasive advocate for seeking out its subject’s original work.
Available at http://www.forbeginnersbooks.com/mcluhanfb.html
Frédérik Sisa is the Page’s Assistant Editor and resident arts, entertainment, and culture critic. He invites you to visit his blog, Ink & Ashes, and join him on Twitter as he figures out this whole tweeting business.
This review first appeared at http://tinyurl.com/aglxwsk
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
W. Terrence Gordon has published more than twenty books including Marshall McLuhan: Escape into Understanding (Gingko Press) and Linguistics For Beginners. Gordon has also been the editor of the Marshall McLuhan Publishing Program at Gingko Press for the past 12 years, and is currently Professor Emeritus at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia. When he is not busy writing or teaching, Gordon photographs the haunting beauty of Nova Scotia, Canada, where he has lived since the 1970s.
ABOUT THE ILLUSTRATOR
Susan Willmarth was born in New Mexico and moved in the early ’70′s to New York City. Since graduating from Parsons School of Design, she has worked as a free-lance editorial illustrator for Push Pin Press Books, Edward Booth-Clibborn editions, New York Magazine, The Open Society, Writers and Readers Publishing, and now For Beginners LLC. Past work includes Black History For Beginners, McLuhan For Beginners and Linguistics for Beginners. She lives in Manhattan with her bicycle..
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2014 will be the 50th anniversary of the publication of Marshall McLuhan’s Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man, arguably the most important book on media published within the last half century. No doubt there will be conferences and symposia focusing on this great book.
Published on May 10, 2013 – This is a motion graphics project concerning Marshall McLuhan’s theory about technology and its influence on humanity. It was created by Walt Simpson using AfterAffects and Photoshop – for a Media Theory class at Savannah College of Art and Design. The video is from an interview of McLuhan in the 1960s, and the song is ‘Oh’ is from the album Polydistortion by the band GusGus. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tit_akHf8do
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Media ecology “unplugged” is the theme of an upcoming convention in Grand Rapids hosted by Grand Valley State University.
The 14th Annual Convention of the Media Ecology Association, June 20–23, “unplugged” theme captures the wide span of environmental mediation prior to the wired and plugged-in revolution of mass media. This mediation includes architecture, literacy, urban design, transportation, art, and other discursive and non-discursive forms.
The “unplugged” theme also turns attention to recent and cutting-edge technologies that have de-tethered users from the plug. These include satellites, nanotechnology, robotics, genetic engineering, modern pharmacology, cell phones, Bluetooth, e-readers, solar cells, green technologies, neuroscience, and much more.
Featured speakers at the conference include Morris Berman, author of the Trilogy on Human Consciousness and The Twilight of American Culture; Lance Strate, former MEA president and author of The Binding Biases of Time; and Dominique Scheffel-Dunand, the director of the McLuhan Program in Culture and Technology at the University of Toronto.
For more information contact convention coordinators:
Corey Anton, professor GVSU School of Communications email@example.com, author of Selfhood and Authenticity, winner of the 2004 Erving Goffman Award for Outstanding Scholarship in the Ecology of Social Interaction, presented by the Media Ecology Association
Valerie V. Peterson, associate professor GVSU School of Communications firstname.lastname@example.org, whose recent publications include the book Sex, Ethics and Communication.
The online pre-registration deadline is May 15 to avoid price increase when paid at the conference. Student registration is discounted. Membership in the Media Ecology Association is open to anyone— faculty, students, business people, professionals—interested in exploring the interactions between media, communications, and culture.
The conference sponsors include the Provost’s Office, the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and the School of Communications.
Detailed convention information available here: http://www.media-ecology.org/activities/index.html
Register online here: http://www.media-ecology.org/activities/index.html
The preliminary conference program is available here: http://media-ecology.org/activities/convention_program_2013.html .
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James Cameron’s films, Hollywood blockbusters though they are, may also be read in terms of a Canadian sensibility that is prone to problematizing mankind’s relation to technology and communications media, as epitomized by Marshall McLuhan (see Babe 2000; Kroker 1984). The Terminator films are thus based on the idea of the nascent Internet as a nervous system becoming self-aware as the subject of technology and disposing of its human parasites. These dystopian visions have their utopian counterpart in The Abyss, the first major motion picture to use CGI (Computer-Generated Imagery) for “morphing” effects. With the benefit of hindsight, the story and imagery into which the appearance of this new technology was woven in this film beg to be interpreted as metaphors for the shift in consciousness attending the transition from the rigidity of analog technology to the fluidity of digital technology, a watershed that happens to hinge on the year of the film’s release: 1989, during the meltdown of Cold War blocks on the eve of the emergence of the Internet’s borderless global cyberspace.
McLuhan saw the creative artist as an “early warning system,” grasping and imaginatively portraying such shifts in the collective sensorium even ahead of their full unfolding in technology and culture. If we take seriously McLuhan’s assumptions, Cameron’s The Abyss can thus appear in retrospect as a mythic allegory of mutations then still around the corner. It uses Christian motifs to give narrative expression to the world-historical transformations of 1989 as kairos, as theological discourse refers to a moment of utopian opportunity for the revelation of the Kingdom of God within history —or beyond it as Apocalypse. For the end of the Cold War did, for a moment, hold the promise of a humanity freed from ideological and national divisions, to enjoy the peace dividends of unhindered free trade within a global village unified by new technologies.
Read the rest at Second Nature Journal: http://tinyurl.com/blwq4fz
Trailer for The Abyss (1989):
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|A Descent into the Maelström|
Artist Harry Clarke‘s 1919 illustration for “A Descent into the Maelström” by Edgar Allan Poe.
The role of the artist in regard to man and the media is simply survival, said Marshall McLuhan
BY C.S. MORRISSEY
“The entire internet is in a sense pornographic,” said the British writer Alain de Botton last year. The reason why is because “it is a deliverer of constant excitement which we have no innate capacity to resist, a system which leads us down paths many of which have nothing to do with our real needs.”
How long can you stay away from your smartphone? Or your tablet? Or your laptop? How well are you able to resist being online? Or to abstain from watching movies or television?
Do you feel like you are in control? Doesn’t our new technological environment make you feel like you are caught in the middle of a vast storm?
He grabs hold of what does not disappear. He hangs on to what he reasonably thinks can carry him out of the storm. He trusts a proven pattern of salvation t
Decades ago, the Canadian media analyst Marshall McLuhan thought about the ascent of modern media technology. He liked to use the story by Edgar Allen Poe, “A Descent into the Maelström,” to illustrate the condition that we are in.
“Poe imagines the situation in which a sailor, who has gone out on a fishing expedition, finds himself caught in a huge maelstrom or whirlpool. He sees that his boat will be sucked down into this thing,” recounted McLuhan, paraphrasing Poe’s story.
In order to survive, the sailor looks around and studies the action of the storm. He observes patterns and recognizes them for what they are. Sometimes things appear. Sometimes things disappear. By carefully noting the reality of certain recurring patterns, he is able to infer what is needed for his survival.
He grabs hold of what does not disappear. He hangs on to what he reasonably thinks can carry him out of the storm. He trusts a proven pattern of salvation that he was able to observe. And eventually he is saved.
“Pattern recognition in the midst of a huge, overwhelming, destructive force is the way out of the maelstrom,” said McLuhan. “The huge vortices of energy created by our media present us with similar possibilities of evasion or consequences of destruction. By studying the patterns of the effects of this huge vortex of energy in which we are involved, it may be possible to program a strategy of evasion and survival.”
Are you able to observe undeniable patterns in your interaction with technology? Perhaps it is easier to observe recurrent patterns in the behavior of those around you. In particular, are there common patterns to be observed in the emerging behavior of young people? When you walk into a coffee shop, for example, what do you see?
The next step we need to take with this knowledge, said McLuhan, is to acquire a deeper sensitivity to the meaning of the patterns we find in the technological reality of our transformed environment.
The most sensitive observers of these patterns will be artists. “The artist’s insights or perceptions seem to have been given to mankind as a providential means of bridging the gap between evolution and technology,” said McLuhan.
He saw a definite vocation for artists in our world: “The artist is able to program, or reprogram, the sensory life in a manner which gives a navigational chart to get out of the maelstrom created by our own ingenuity.”
Far from our current misconception of artists as celebrities to be envied, McLuhan argued that artists have a much more serious role to play in society: “The role of the artist in regard to man and the media is simply survival.”
In other words, the fate of human society depends on the ability of artists themselves to perceive beauty, and then to help us train our eyes to see beauty. As Roger Scruton, the great British philosopher who recently visited Vancouver, puts it: “Culture counts.“
A renewed culture could allow us to escape the maelstrom, if artists could show us patterns of beauty that we hadn’t noticed before.
This is the reason why Scruton says that “culture is important“: “Without it we remain emotionally uneducated. There are consequences of fake culture that are comparable to the consequences of corruption in politics. In a world of fakes, the public interest is constantly sacrificed to private fantasy, and the truths on which we depend for our rescue are left unexamined and unknown.”
Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, put it this way in a famous speech of his own on beauty: “The encounter with beauty can become the wound of the arrow that strikes the soul and thus makes it see clearly, so that henceforth it has criteria, based on what it has experienced, and can now weigh the arguments correctly.”
In other words, a profound encounter with what is truly beautiful will not be a source of distraction or constant excitement. It will not look like today’s average internet use.
Instead, beauty will educate us in truth. Source of this article: http://tinyurl.com/c5hv9un
The video excerpt below is from the National Film Board of Canada film “McLuhan’s Wake” (2003). The excerpt from Poe is read by Eric McLuhan.
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The brief was set by the Edinburgh based design agency ‘Elastic Creative’. My task was to express one of Marshall McLuhan’s many prophecies through a motion sequence.
“As the unity of the modern world becomes increasingly technological rather than a social affair, the techniques of the arts provide the most valuable insight into the real direction.” - McLuhan, M.
My concept echoes Marshall McLuhans philosophies on Art and Technology. He believed all forms of technology have grown from creative ideas. With this technology obsessed world, we need Art in order to evolve.
I was inspired by 1960s Sci-Fi movies and television programmes. Furthermore, I was strongly motivated by the title sequence work of the late, great Saul Bass. http://vimeo.com/65821738
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Of course he called the “flipped classroom”, a recently devised pedagogy, something else: classroom without walls, city as classroom, little round schoolhouse. The point was to take learning out of classrooms into the information rich environments of the world beyond……..AlexK
“We have to realize that more instruction is going on outside the classroom, many times more every minute of the day than goes on inside the classroom. That is, the amount of information that is embedded in young minds per minute outside the classroom far exceeds anything that happens inside the classroom in just quantitative terms now.”
“In the future basic skills will no longer be taught in classrooms.” - McLuhan, M. (1966, April). Electronics & the psychic drop-out. THIS Magazine is about SCHOOLS. p. 38.
What is the flipped classroom?
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It seems odd to be reviewing Philip Marchand’s & Terrence Gordon’s biographies of Marshall McLuhan so long after they were first published; the former was published in 1989 & the latter in 1997, but this recent review from Canadian Literature Quarterly might be useful to those who have not read them. And it’s good to remind readers that they are still in print.
Book Review - A Shout Out to Marsh
- Terence W. Gordon (Author)
Marshall McLuhan: Escape into Understanding. Stoddart Press (purchase at Amazon.ca)
- Philip Marchand (Author)
Marshall McLuhan: The Medium and the Messenger. Vintage Canada (purchase at Amazon.ca)
Reviewed by E. Hamilton
Marshall McLuhan is probably the most influential Canadian communications theorist, and perhaps also the one most argued over. As an academic, he was often accused of being an intellectual vampire and an idiosyncratic researcher. He was, at times, labelled a doomsayer, a rampant technophile, and a media guru. What is perhaps most astounding about McLuhan was his mobility and the consequent reach of his ideas. The “global village” sells telecommunications companies and McLuhan himself was able to find an audience in the marketing managers of GE and IBM. Finding a controversial seat in the canon of theorists labelled “technological determinists,” McLuhan’s ideas have been used to promote notions of technological progress or, in a sinister variation, death by technology. That McLuhan’s theories of media open themselves to such a polarized field of interpretation, and that McLuhan became one of the most public intellectuals of this century, has resulted in a healthy debate about both the theories and the man.
One of the main confusions about McLuhan himself revolved around his own stance towards media and technology. Much of his writing can easily be read as formalist promotion, emphasizing, technological capability in terms of form, rather than explication of content. This, coupled with his belief that personal points of view were redundant in the face of the sensory altering power of the media, contributed to the wide array of readings to which he has been subjected. Both Gordon and Marchand stress this aspect of McLuhan’s writing, while also investing their own with it to some degree. Though Gordon’s treatment of McLuhan is perhaps more apologetic than Marchand’s, and though Gordon is far less equivocal in his stance towards the “father of communications studies,” each presents McLuhan’s life and work as a tray of more or less interrelated hors d’oeuvres, deferring interpretation to their readership. As far as their presentations of McLuhan’s work goes, this seems adequate, though for those familiar with that work it might seem redundant. So little differentiation exists between the two authors’ treatment of the texts that judgements of the two are hardly necessary, though Gordon has a tendency to become bogged down in his own brand of McLuhanesque expostulation.
The differences occur in the ways the authors relate that work to McLuhan’s life. Gordon’s account gives considerably more weight to McLuhan’s pedigree and early years (pre-Cambridge) than does Marchand, and constructs the early life as a kind of frontier epic. McLuhan’s forebears are all invested with one or another (or several in the case of his mother) facet of McLuhan, a narrative feature that tends to naturalize individual development and also to glorify and romanticize the family history. This tactic becomes much more plausible when Gordon writes of the tensions between McLuhan’s mother and father, but becomes rather dodgy in the depictions of McLuhan’s more distant relatives. Marchand rarely dwells too long on matters that may not directly be connected to McLuhan’s own development, or that may be said to constitute the intellectual “surround” for McLuhan’s work at various stages. Marchand’s discussion of McLuhan’s early years places great emphasis on the relationship between his mother and father, but does not merely leave as a sidebar. He uses it as a platform upon which to build connections to the future McLuhan of “50 Million Mama’s Boys” and The Mechanical Bride, as well as to discussions of McLuhan’s home life after his marriage. The result is not only the depiction of a figure with an integral history, but with a depth of conflicting attitudes, beliefs, paranoia and superstitions. Rather than subordinating the life to the ideas, or vice versa—ideas which are, generally speaking, respected and vital long after their inception—Marchand, integrates the ideas into the fabric of a life which is not always as pleasant or as easily digestible as some readers might like.
McLuhan does not exactly come up smelling like roses in either account, though here again, Gordon seems to ally himself to McLuhan in ways that Marchand does not. Gordon certainly does not try to paint a flattering portrait of McLuhan, or to allow his readership to be entirely comfortable with him as a human being. Often, he comes off as having been petty, paranoid, somewhat gender-biased, solidly set in the intellectual cadre of his correspondent, Ezra Pound, and the New Critics. Though neither biographer attempts to pass judgement on McLuhan for his questionable beliefs or conspiracy theories, Marchand is much more successful at forcing his readership to confront these not only as quirks or idiosyncrasies, but as they inform the work for which McLuhan has become famous. For Gordon, these connections are quite loose, and there is always room for a salvage operation. But from Marchand, we learn not only that McLuhan was sympathetic to political fascism (though not necessarily to Hitler or Mussolini) and that he believed in a conspiracy of homosexuals, but that these aspects of McLuhan’s beliefs are not perhaps as inextricable from other aspects of the life as they might seem. Marchand seems to recognize and be able to reproduce the complexities that govern the shape and structure of a life, and to allow those to dictate the course of his story.
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the biographies for most readers will be how various influences helped shape the thought that became McLuhan. Particularly interesting, and usually absent from a social science perspective on McLuhan’s theories, are the influences of Richards, Empson, Leavis and the New Criticism. Marchand weaves an almost seamless web of connections between the New Criticism and McLuhan’s later work on media and society, at least suggesting the logocentric and text-centred basis for much of McLuhan’s work. Gordon’s coverage also stresses these influences, though his discussion is more tentative than Marchand’s. In both cases, however, McLuhan’s literary background, and the influence of literary theory serve as a means through which researchers from outside literary studies can be pointed towards some useful resources.
Overall, while Gordon serves to points researchers towards areas of further reading, Marchand provides a framework through which McLuhan’s thought can be broadened and problematized in the context of a highly complex and often sad life. Gordon seems a little too much on side with McLuhan to present a portrait of him that could be as three-dimensional as that of Marchand. As resources for researchers looking to expand or realign an understanding of McLuhan’s theories, both texts serve as valuable touchstones. Source link: http://canlit.ca/reviews/a_shout_out_to_marsh
Philip Marchand - W. Terrence Gordon
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“The medium is the message,” is an important phrase in the history of communication studies. Marshall McLuhan, the man who coined it, is widely regarded as that field’s father. But without the work of political economist and historian Harold Innis, McLuhan might never have pronounced those famous words. New research from Concordia University re-examines this relationship between the two media-studies pioneers, and argues that Innis deserves equal prominence in the evolving field of communications, as an entity separate from McLuhan’s dominant celebrity.
In a recent article in theCanadian Journal of Communication Studies, William Buxton, a professor in Concordia’s Department of Communication Studies, argues that Innis and McLuhan, long viewed in tandem, should be de-coupled. “Innis was eclipsed by what we would now call McLuhan’s brand power,” explains Buxton, who argues that Innis’s ideas deserve to be considered on their own, not as a function of McLuhan’s work.
As a professor of political economy at the University of Toronto, Innis helped develop the theory of staples, which says that Canada’s culture and economy have been influenced by the exploitation and export of a series of “staples,” such as fur, fish, wood, wheat, metals and fossil fuels. Innis went on to write several seminal works on media and communication theory, which explore the role of media in shaping the culture and development of civilizations. These books, however, did not receive much acclaim when they were first published. Innis was well respected, but as an economist, not a media-studies scholar.
McLuhan, however, developed a strategy of building on Innis’ considerable reputation as a staples theorist in order to lend credibility to his own approach of looking at how media technologies exerted effects by virtue of their inherent properties. While this allowed McLuhan to help resurrect Innis as a pioneering figure in media studies, it came at the expense of leaving his own mark indelibly on the Innisian legacy to communication research. “The result has been the common tendency to view Innis as some sort of precursor to McLuhan, if not a junior partner in the tandem,” explains Buxton.
Despite McLuhan’s enthusiastic support, Innis’s books fell out of print. But this was not the only reason that Innis’ studies of media were largely initially ignored while McLuhan developed a considerable following.
McLuhan gained popularity thanks to a slim book with eye-catching graphic designs and tongue-in-cheek title: The Medium is the Massage. Widely published and read, the book allowed McLuhan to develop a kind of a celebrity status – something never afforded to Innis.
“By virtue of that book, a distinct McLuhan brand emerged,” says Buxton. “As a result, the work has important implications for how we understand McLuhan and his relationship to Innis.” Without a similar volume to popularize his work, the attention paid to Innis was not as widespread.
For Buxton, however, Innis deserves to be considered on his own. “We need to make better sense of a ‘de-McLuhanised’ Innis,” says Buxton. “Innis’s concept of communication should not be reduced to a form of media staple, but could be viewed more as an interactive process, inherently connected to the growth of civilization, the emergence of universities, and the advent of new forms of public.”
About the research: The article discussed is a revised version of a paper that was originally presented at a conference at Montreal’s Société des arts technologiques in April 2012, titled Innis, McLuhan, and the Media: Path to Enlightenment or Dead End?. The conference was organized by the Concordia/Université de Montréal/Université de Québec à Montréal Joint PhD Program in Communication. The paper appeared (along with four other revised papers from the conference) in a special issue of the Canadian Journal of Communication – Tracing Innis and McLuhan, edited by Buxton and Professor Thierry Bardini of Université de Montréal. A Standard Research Grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada funded the preparation of Buxton’s article.
A related volume, Harold Innis and the North: Appraisals and Contestations, edited by William Buxton, will be published this summer by McGill-Queens University Press.
• Cited study: The Rise of McLuhanism, The Loss of Innis-sense: Rethinking the Origins of the Toronto School of Communication. Canadian Journal of Communication, vol. 37, no. 4
• Concordia University’s Department of Communication Studies
• William Buxton’s proile on Research @ Concordia
• Harold Innis and the North: Appraisals and Contestations
This article can be found at http://tinyurl.com/b4tyavp
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Photo: Marc J Chalifoux Photography
Yesterday Arts Habitat Edmonton was joined by supporters, special guests and neighbours to celebrate the grand opening the McLuhan House – a new historic resource and home for arts and ideas in the Highlands.
In 2012, Arts Habitat Edmonton purchased the house with assistance from the City of Edmonton and the Edmonton Arts Council.
The acquisition of this house is a source of pride for Arts Habitat, whose goal is to provide sustainable space for Edmonton’s arts community.
“Arts Habitat Edmonton is thrilled to preserve this house in the Highlands, and to honour the legacy of its famous first inhabitant, Marshall McLuhan”, says Linda Huffman, Executive Director of Arts Habitat. “Arts and culture regenerations create diverse, inclusive and healthy communities. This new investment adds an historic resource to the city inventory and to this historic neighbourhood.”
The property was rezoned in January 2013, and is currently in line for Municipal Heritage designation. The House will now host small office, studio, and meeting spaces. An interpretive display on Marshall McLuhan highlights a one-of-a-kind McLuhan Family Portrait Collection. The new designations will allow for these uses, and also protect the exterior heritage features of the home.
The celebration included a presentation by Michael McLuhan, highlighting 54 unpublished photos of his father for the LIFE Magazine shoot in 1966 by Henri Dauman. The McLuhan TV Wall, on loan from the University of Alberta, is on display in an upstairs room.
A number of families associated with the house were at the event: The McLuhan Family was represented by Michael, youngest son of Marshall and Edmonton cousin Stuart MacKay, the Husbands were represented by twins Fred and Margaret, now 83. They were the next family to live in the house, and still have stories to tell of the house and neighbourhood from the 1920’s. Doug and Cheryl Toshack and their daughter Tracy came. They bought the house in 1974. Their dream to preserve the house was fulfilled with its sale in 2012 to Arts Habitat.
Marshall McLuhan, who became a leading 20th century thinker, lived in this house one hundred years ago. His early years significantly influenced his long-term philosophical theories, including “the medium is the message” and the global impact of mass media, which went on to shape the international community.
The McLuhan Portrait Collection was made possible through generous donations from Michael McLuhan and the McLuhan Estate, with supporting narratives and genealogy compiled by McLuhan family cousin Stuart MacKay.
The McLuhan TV Wall, created by University of Alberta students and professors, displays documentary images and sounds of Marshall McLuhan’s many appearances on U.S. and Canadian television from the early 1950s to the late 1970s. The TV Wall was first exhibited at the Art Gallery of Alberta and has also been exhibited at the Edmonton International Airport.
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