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NOVEMBER 26, 2019 — A bronze bust of U of M alumnus Herbert Marshall McLuhan (1911-1980) will be unveiled at a special symposium and reception at U of M Archives & Special Collections on Thursday, Nov. 28 from 1 to 4 p.m.  The WinnipegREALTORS selected the communications giant as the 2019 Citizens Hall of Fame Inductee. 

Michael McLuhan, youngest son of Marshall McLuhan, will give an illustrated talk at the symposium about his father’s Winnipeg roots.

Visitors are welcome to drop in and view the bust at the archives, where it will remain in the Archives until next year when Assiniboine Park will reconstitute the Walk of Fame, currently suspended by the construction of Canada’s Diversity Gardens.

McLuhan’s influence on ideas about communication and information is widely acknowledged; his concept of a “global village” created by technology predicted the World Wide Web almost 30 years before it was invented. His work heavily influenced many cultural thinkers and media theorists such as Neil Postman and Timothy Leary, as well as politicians such as Pierre Elliott Trudeau and artist Andy Warhol.

Cover of The Medium is the Massage by Marshall McLuhan.

His phrase “the medium is the message” likewise revealed the intertwined relationship between technology and informational content. It was introduced in his 1964 book, Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man (1964). A later book, entitled The Medium is the Massage: An Inventory of Effects, was published in 1967; the changed title, said to be a printer’s error, was embraced by McLuhan as a playful and generative extension of the original idea.

“The medium is the message. This is merely to say that the personal and social consequences of any medium – that is, of any extension of ourselves – result from the new scale that is introduced into our affairs by each extension of ourselves, or by any new technology”. – Marshall McLuhan


Born in Edmonton, McLuhan grew up in Winnipeg after his family moved here in 1915. Upon graduating with a Masters of Arts degree in English at the University of Manitoba in 1934, he went on to the University of Cambridge (U.K.)  to obtain a doctorate in 1943. He began teaching at the University of Toronto in 1946, where he remained for the rest of his career.

Some have argued that McLuhan’s formative years in Winnipeg had a permanent effect on his thinking and writing. McLuhan converted to Roman Catholicism in 1937, and much has also been written about the influence of his faith on his views.

He always considered himself a Winnipegger. In a 1970 interview with CBC’s Danny Finkleman, he said, “Let’s remember some of our happy days out west! Now [that] they’re having their centenary, why, we think happily of returning with rest of the Winnipigeons, flocking back to the old spot.” The interview was published in the 1974 collection of interviews Speaking of Winnipeg.

McLuhan’s roots in Winnipeg will be explored at the symposium this Thursday. All are welcome.

Exhibit of Winnipeg-related McLuhan archives and artifacts curated by Howard R. Engel and Shelley Sweeney.


University of Manitoba Archives & Special Collections

1-1:30 PM Michael McLuhan, featured speaker, “Things My Father Told Me”

1:30-2:00 PM McLuhan Bust unveiling

Howard R. Engel & Esther G. Juce: Presentation of McLuhan nomination for Winnipeg Citizen’s Hall of Fame

2-2:30 PM Jarrett Cole’s documentary video on McLuhan’s Winnipeg roots, Marshall McLuhan Lived Here.

2:30-3:00 PM Presentation of the Medium and the Light Award

3-3:30 PM Soft launch of McLuhan Faith and Works Conference Proceedings book, Of a Certain Winnipigeon and Religion: McLuhan’s Faith & Works Conference Proceedings

3:30-4:00 PM Richard Altman’s new abridged version of his avant-garde video McLuhan Unclaimed: I Am a Winnipigeon

4—5:30 PM Reception


The Winnipeg Realtors announcement of Marshall McLuhan’s selection is here:

University of Manitoba Graduate B.A. (1952), M.A. (1934)

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Marshall McLuhan was born at Edmonton, Alberta on 21 July 1911, he moved with his parents to Winnipeg in 1915. He attended Gladstone SchoolEarl Grey School and Kelvin Technical High School before enrolling in the University of Manitoba in 1928. He received a BA Honours in 1933 and an MA in 1934 before going on to study at the University of Cambridge.

The Winnipigeon Symposium Schedule

Date: Thursday, November 28, 2019
Time: 1:00pm – 5:30pm
Location: Archives & Special Collections, Elizabeth Dafoe Library, Fort Garry Campus  Archives 


FEATURED SPEAKER:  Michael McLuhan, son of Marshall McLuhan “Some Things My Father Told Me”

The unveiling of Bust of Marshall McLuhan, 2019 Winnipeg Citizen’s Hall of Fame Inductee

Documentary:  Jarrett Cole’s:  Marshall McLuhan Lived Here.

Award Presentation:  The Medium and the Light Award

New Book announcement:  Of Religion and a Winnipegeon:  Proceedings of the McLuhan Faith & Works Conference at St.Paul’s College, U of M, Oct. 2015

Movie Screening:  Richard Altman’s:  McLuhan Unclaimed:  I am a Winnipigeon

Reception to follow until 5:30

University of Manitoba Archives & Special Collections

     330 Elizabeth Dafoe Library

MORE INFO: (204) 474 – 9986

Along with the program above, there will also be the unveiling of the Bust of Marshall McLuhan, and an announcement of his induction as the 2019 Winnipeg Citizen’s Hall of Fame Inductee joining other notable Winnipegers like Terry Fox, John Hirsch, Nellie McClung, Gabrielle Roy, Carol Shields, and Sir William Stephenson. See

University of Manitoba

Canadian embassy’s political & public affairs counselor Warren Mucci with Patricia Evangelista
You are invited to a special McLuhan event next Monday, NOV 18th, 6:00 – 8:00 PM at St. Michael’s College/University of Toronto.

The Embassy of Canada in the Philippines, the Estate of Marshall McLuhan, the McLuhan Salons, and the Media Ethics Lab present: “Reporting the Voiceless: Mainstreaming Marginalized Issues in the Media”, with the 2019 Marshall McLuhan Fellow – Philippines, Patricia Evangelista.
* * *
This year’s McLuhan Fellow is Patricia Evangelista, multimedia journalist for the online news organization Rappler. Ms. Evangelista specializes in reporting disasters, conflicts, and development issues. She has also covered human rights-related stories, extra-judicial killings, and the long national campaign for the legislation of reproductive rights.

For her presentation in Canada, she has chosen the topic: “Reporting the voiceless: Mainstreaming marginalized issues in the media” in which she discusses her experiences in covering the various underreported issues in the Philippines, its implications on those in the margins, challenges, and efforts to bring to light the difficult and unpopular stories. Her discussion will also underline the significant role media play as a social conscience and one that influences public policy and action. Her presentation would also like to discuss the question: “In a time when human rights and other fundamental freedoms in the Philippines are under the spotlight, what should journalists do to responsibly communicate the stories of those in the margins?”

This event is presented as part of the McLuhan Salons series, in collaboration with the Media Ethics Lab, the Embassy of Canada in the Philippines and the Estate of Marshall McLuhan. The McLuhan Salon series is generously supported by the William and Nona Heaslip Foundation.

Introduction: Carlo Figueroa, Public Affairs Officer, Embassy of Canada in the Philippines. Special Guest: Michael McLuhan, Executor Marshall McLuhan Estate. Moderator: Paolo Granata, St. Michael’s College, University of Toronto.

The event is free and open to the public. Space is limited, please RSVP.
Looking forward to seeing you there!

Monday, November 18th, 6:00 PM

St. Michael’s College, University of Toronto (81 St Mary Street, Toronto)
Basilian Common Room, Brennan Hall (2nd floor, east side entrance)


Brennan Hall, St. Michael’s College, University of Toronto

Marshall McLuhan Teaching at the University of Michigan

David Bobbitt, Wesleyan College, (Published: December 30, 2011)

“After three thousand years of explosion, by means of fragmentary and mechanical technologies, the Western world is imploding” (McLuhan 3).1 With these words on the first page of Understanding Media published in 1964, Marshall McLuhan burst onto the intellectual scene with his most influential book. At the time the Commonweal Review called the book “infuriating, brilliant, and incoherent” (Gordon, “Critical Reception” 545). More recently, Nicholas Carr wrote that Understanding Media is “oracular, gnomic, and mind-bending” (1). Terrance Gordon argues that “Understanding Media occupies a central place in McLuhan’s work” but also says that the book “defies summary” (“Editor’s Introduction” xiii).

With its mosaic style Understanding Media is not an easy book to understand or to teach to students. I have been teaching Marshall McLuhan’s Understanding Media to undergraduates for 18 years.2 When teaching major theorists such as McLuhan, I prefer to expose students to the original texts rather than distillations provided by another author whenever possible. This, of course, presents some difficulties in McLuhan’s case because of his nonlinear style and the complexity of his ideas.

In this essay I will explain how I interpret McLuhan’s Understanding Media to my students. This essay is more interpretative than pedagogical. If we understand what McLuhan is saying in this book and how he is saying it, we can make these ideas understandable to undergraduates. I impose some linearity and coherence on McLuhan by identifying the following four themes that run throughout Part I of the book: media as extensions of ourselves, hot and cold media, the reversal of the overheated medium, and antidotes to the narcotic effects of media. Then my students and I explore the application of these themes in Part II of Understanding Media as McLuhan discusses how his theories apply to specific media.

Media as Extensions of Ourselves

The core of McLuhan’s theory, and the key idea to start with in explaining him, is his definition of media as extensions of ourselves. McLuhan writes: “It is the persistent theme of this book that all technologies are extensions of our physical and nervous systems to increase power and speed” (90) and, “Any extension, whether of skin, hand, or foot, affects the whole psychic and social complex. Some of the principle extensions, together with some of their psychic and social consequences, are studied in this book”(4). From the premise that media, or technologies (McLuhan’s approach makes “media” and “technology” more or less synonymous terms), are extensions of some physical, social, psychological, or intellectual function of humans, flows all of McLuhan’s subsequent ideas. Thus, the wheel extends our feet, the phone extends our voice, television extends our eyes and ears, the computer extends our brain, and electronic media, in general, extend our central nervous system.

In McLuhan’s theory language too is a medium or technology (although one that does not require any physical object outside of ourselves) because it is an extension, or outering, of our inner thoughts, ideas, and feelings—that is, an extension of inner consciousness. McLuhan sees the enormous implications of the development of language for humans when he writes: “It is the extension of man in speech that enables the intellect to detach itself from the vastly wider reality. Without language . . . human intelligence would have remained totally involved in the objects of its attention” (79). Thus, spoken language is the key development in the evolution of human consciousness and culture and the medium from which subsequent technological extensions have evolved.

But recent extensions via electronic technology elevate the process of technological extension to a new level of significance: “Whereas all previous technology (save speech, itself) had, in effect, extended some part of our bodies, electricity may be said to have outered the central nervous system itself, including the brain” (247). Thus, pre-electric extensions are explosions of physical scale outward, while electronic technology is an inward implosion toward shared consciousness, a change that has significant implications. McLuhan states: “Our new electric technology that extends our senses and nerves in a global embrace has large implications for the future of language” (80). This electronic extension of consciousness is one about which McLuhan himself seems conflicted, as when he writes:

Rapidly, we approach the final phase of the extension of man—the technological simulation of consciousness, when the creative process of knowing will be collectively and corporately extended to the whole of human society, much as we have already extended our senses and nerves by the various media. Whether the extension of consciousness, so long sought by advertisers for specific products, will be ‘a good thing’ is a question that admits of a wide solution. (3-4)

Thus, it is incorrect to categorize McLuhan as either a technophile or a technophobe, as his critics often try to do. McLuhan is more interested in exploring the implications of our technological extensions than in classifying them as inherently “good” or “bad.”

At times McLuhan speaks of a movement toward a global consciousness in positive terms, as when he writes: “might not our current translation of our entire lives into the spiritual form of information seem to make of the entire globe, and of the human family, a single consciousness?” (61). But at other times, he expresses reservations about this development: “With the arrival of electric technology, man extended, or set outside himself, a live model of the central nervous system itself. To the degree that this is so, it is a development that suggests a desperate and suicidal autoamputation . . .” (43). Thus, one of McLuhan’s key concerns in Understanding Media is to examine and make us aware of the implications of the evolution toward the extension of collective human consciousness facilitated by electronic media…
Read the rest of this essay at

I recommend that instructors consider using the Critical Edition of Understanding Media, especially for graduate-level courses. It features an appendix that makes available for the first time the core of the research project that spawned the book and in which individual chapter notes are supported by a glossary of terms, indices of subjects, names, and works cited. There is also a complete bibliography of McLuhan’s published works.
W. Terrence Gordon is Associate General Editor of the Gingko Press McLuhan publishing program, author of the biography Marshall McLuhan: Escape into Understanding and McLuhan for Beginners.

Mark Kingwell

Mark Kingwell is a professor of philosophy at the University of Toronto.

More than five decades ago, Marshall McLuhan argued that media are ecosystems, extensions of human consciousness. The famous adage that the medium is the message also means, as the often-misquoted title of McLuhan’s famous book notes, that the medium is the mass age. We are all immersed in media and technology.

Media have changed a lot since McLuhan wrote: less broadcast, more diffusion and unruliness. But his basic insights remain relevant.

The social media of today are “social” in only a very specific and narrow sense, and their effects on public discourse are mostly deleterious. Twitter, for example, is a force multiplier of disinformation, outright lies and escalating vitriol, especially as wielded by certain holders of high office.

Facebook, meanwhile, is a right-wing corporate entity that nevertheless parades itself as a champion of freedom. Media critic Jacob Silverman, writing this week in the digital magazine The Baffler, notes: “That [Facebook] has come to so thoroughly dominate our public sphere is a tragic indictment of American civic life and American techno-capitalism, which has confused the pitiless surveillance of today’s internet with utopian empowerment.”

Ouch. People may disagree with these judgments, but what stays constant is the need for critical reflection about how media work. As McLuhan himself noted, even the evolving skills of reading and writing are not, to paraphrase Winston Churchill, the end, or even the beginning of the end, of literacy. They are at most the end of the beginning.

Media literacy is therefore more urgent than ever in our day, as is the need for deeper forms of cultural and technological literacy. These are the real font of freedom and democracy, not any cozy relationship between Zuckerbergian bromides and anti-regulatory government feebleness.

I spent last weekend with colleagues at the University of Colorado discussing artificial intelligence and ethics. This may seem a long way from literacy, but as the discussions wound on, I realized that every aspect of our concerns, some fairly technical, were implicated in critical ideas about technology and society. This is the new techno-capital literacy, and we’re all still learning it.

The Colorado project, STEM+C, works to integrate ethical and political concerns into AI and robotics curricula. The key word is “integrate.” So far, my own experience with the ethics of AI has been that computer-science researchers too often view ethical issues as window dressing, hasty add-ons to help secure grant money. But this project is led by computer scientists, and its advisers include a skeptical law professor and a neo-Luddite philosopher (that would be me).

The initiative has unique properties. First, it’s aimed not at high-school or college students but students in Grades 6, 7 and 8. Second, the main delivery vehicle for ethical discussion – the medium bearing the message – is storytelling.

As McLuhan would have confirmed, narrative is essential to understanding human consciousness. It might even be the basis of selfhood, a sense of identity over time. Certainly, stories are everywhere around us, from children’s books to podcasts to the latest (two) winners of the Man Booker Prize. Narrative conveys ideas – and also shapes them. Read the rest at

The McLuhan Way


This is an article from the online version of a regional quarterly print publication titled “Watershed,” which reflects on life in the Northumberland and Prince Edward Counties and the Bay of Quinte Region, east of Toronto, the beautifully-published version of which was brought to our attention by Andrew McLuhan who lives in Picton in Prince Edward County.

By Conrad Beaubien

Boxes of uncatalogued books, collected over Marshall McLuhan’s lifetime of study and reflection, become the medium through which a grandfather relays his message to his grandson

AT THE BOTTOM OF WILD OAK LANE IN PRINCE EDWARD COUNTY, is a mailbox that sits on a well-wintered cedar pole. It’s an everyday rural-style mailbox, painted in black enamel with a civic address cleanly set in white, Times New Roman font. Over time, the mailbox has become a symbol of communication, a basic need of humankind. Today, this particular mailbox serves as a visual reminder of the impact of communication on the world and the lifetime work of one individual – Herbert Marshall McLuhan.

A gravelled driveway rises from the main road, tunnels through shadows of older sugar maple trees, past a single storey, white frame house and then leads to a set of 19th century farm buildings. Within one of these buildings is a renovated space where Andrew McLuhan, Marshall McLuhan’s grandson, is seated at a sturdy wooden refectory table. It is here where Andrew, in 2009, catalogued the working library of his grandfather. The extensive library, inherited by Andrew’s father, had been stored here after Marshall McLuhan’s death in 1980. The inner change precipitated by that one event fuels Andrew’s efforts today.

Born in Edmonton, Marshall McLuhan is considered one of the leading communication theorists in the modern world. He studied how media, in all its forms, has the power to transform human consciousness, how communication tools affect our habits and our minds, and shapes our thoughts in sociology, art, science or religion. The Gutenberg Galaxy: The Making of Typographic Man, published in 1962, was the first of McLuhan’s works to reflect on the transfer of ideas in society. In particular, Galaxy spoke to Johannes Gutenberg’s invention of the printing press in the 15th century and how it spun the dial on the spread of knowledge.

Cataloguing McLuhan’s book collection was a challenge for Andrew. “Up until that point, I didn’t fully understand the true meaning of the pioneering work of my grandfather,” Andrew offers. “I had no cataloguing experience and was guided by instinct.” He set up a spread sheet and began the work. “The volumes had been sitting in random-sized cardboard boxes for years. They were in a range of condition – some with torn dust jackets and fragile bindings – dog-eared titles and signed first editions among the brand new. Others had excerpts from lectures: a note on Abbey Hoffman here, a letter to Marshall from Ezra Pond there,” he lists. “I would absorb Marshall’s abbreviated codes through osmosis. It became clear that if a book was in the boxes, it meant something to him and why he kept it,” Andrew points out.

“Marshall McLuhan’s coining of the phrase ‘the medium is the message’, his prediction of the coming of the internet and the idea of the global village seemed to be well understood, but I wasn’t a schooled intellectual like my dad or my grandfather,” Andrew discusses. He moves from his upright chair to a nearby wall where he takes down a small, hand-soldered copper frame. Under the glass is a strip of birch bark. The sepia-hued inner skin of the bark has a tight, handwritten notation in crisp black ink: Marshall McLuhan July 5 1931. “At the end of his first year of engineering at the University of Manitoba, he worked on a survey crew in northern Manitoba, but didn’t return to engineering. He switched his area of study to English literature and philosophy. He said in later quotes that he began to ‘read himself into literature’…investigation was for him,” Andrew says. “He used that piece of bark as a bookmark. I found it between some pages in the process of my own discovery,” he furthers…
Read the rest here

Eric McLuhan’s, now Andrew’s Working Scriptorium

 Derrick de Kerckhove

This interview was published on a CD-ROM in 1996 titled Understanding McLuhan published by The Voyager Company. I have a copy of it but have lost the ability to look at it, as it requires Windows 3.11 or 95 neither of which I have any more in this era of Windows 10. Fortunately, the enterprising Clinton Ignatov does and posted the entire interview with Derrick de Kerckhove on his website (see Thank you, Clinton.

Q: What influence has McLuhan had on you? Was there a flash when you realized the importance this man would have in your life or in the work that you would do?

A: Yes, the influence of McLuhan on me, and I am saying on me, not just my work, was pretty radical. Very strong, and very continuous. And it happened in stages, deepening stages. The first time was just coming into his room for the first class and being astounded at the completely different sound I was hearing here; the completely different kind of teaching I was getting here. Teaching—I am not even sure if the word applied. I didn’t have any clue about gurus or the ’60s. I didn’t come from the ’60s and I didn’t go through the ’60s revolution like an American would. I came from Europe. And though I met McLuhan in ’68, at the time when Europe was going through a revolutionary stage “mai soixante-huit,” and all that, I wasn’t prepared for that at all. Because I was not in the fermentation period in Europe and I was not in the fermentation period in North America.

So, coming on McLuhan after having listened to Frye and to Robertson Davies and to French professors in the French department, was a radical departure. This man was a complete surprise. He was saying things which had an authority in them that carried some kind of persuasive power. And I was just very flabbergasted when I first heard him talk. I didn’t understand anything. I didn’t understand his method. All I knew was what he was talking about was worth paying attention to, and was worth working for—trying to understand what he had to say was really worthwhile. That’s what I found in my first class.

I bungled along. I was one of his worst students. I got a C- in his class. I don’t think he paid a whole lot of attention to me. Except that one day, a year after the first year. I came back for more, because I didn’t understand anything in my first year. When I came back, I was one day standing here next to this table. And he had a paper in his hand from Le MondeLe Monde Diplomatique—it was an issue. A special issue of Le Monde of Paris and there was an article of an interview of him, or something that had been translated about education. And he asked me—he had this very kind of autocratic way—he had inspirations and he would just, without considering anything else, would simply say “What if I would just follow up on my inspiration? Here is a French-speaking person who knows a bit of my work. Well let’s see if this paper is well-translated.” I mean, he could have very well had not done it, but he gave me this and said “Hey, you are—you speak French. You tell me what you think this is worth.”

So I took it. And I must tell you that at that time I was really not at all cocksure about anything. So I would say, in fear and trembling, but I took the paper, I sat down and I began to read it and I found that there was lots of stuff in it that didn’t seem to jive with what I understood. With what I was beginning to understand, because I can’t claim I understood anything, really. But I pointed out three different areas in that paper which I didn’t think were very well-translated and I said so to him.

He was sitting on that side of the table and he looked at me with genuine surprise. McLuhan never personalized his contact with anybody. Very few times do I remember when he actually noticed me as me. I was just another student. But he did look at me at that time and he said “Wow, you know my stuff!” And I said “Oh, I don’t claim that at all, you know. Can I suggest an alternative for this, this is what I am saying.”

He had a regal, another regal gesture. He turned to his collaborator on the book at that time, Barry Nevitt, and he said to Barry, “From now on de Kerckhove will be our translator.” It was like being knighted, literally. It felt like the flat of a sword was hitting my shoulders. This didn’t make me friends with his previous translator, who didn’t like it one bit. We had even a discussion about whether, you know, one should translate the spirit of the letter. The man was a letter translator and I was a spirit translator. But that actually helped a lot. Translating McLuhan was an education to McLuhan that no other way could have given me… (Read the rest at

Details of the content of the Understanding McLuhan CD-ROM are here: 

Click on the Image for an Expanded Readable View

The New Surrealism: Radio Art and the Poetics of Electricity

A public talk by R. Bruce Elder

As part of the 2019 – 2020 Faculty Lecture Series
October 3, 2019 at 6:30pm in IMA 307, School of Image Arts, Ryerson University, 122 Bond Street, Toronto
(Note: R. Bruce Elder will also be presenting his retirement lecture on November 14) 

Marshall McLuhan claimed that electrotechnics—the human use of electromagnetic phenomena to intervene in nature—inaugurated a new era in cultural history. It gave rise to a new conceptual regime that transformed how we think about nature, the environment, the order of the cosmos, social relations, beauty and goodness. Art itself was transformed, as it adopted electromorphic forms: artists began talking about being guided in their artmaking by energies that course through the cosmos. The poets Allen Ginsberg, Michael McClure, and Robert Duncan began speaking of radio and television as transmitting energies, steering minds towards good or evil. The writer Jack Spicer staked the claim that his poems were transmitted to him on radio signals from Mars, while the collage artist and filmmaker Wallace Berman produced a series of Verifax collages, centred on images of a hand holding a transistor radio and inspired by one of his favourite books, Henry Smith Williams’s Radio-mastery of the Ether. The filmmaker Stan Brakhage spoke of his desire to convey to viewers equivalents to the electrical discharges at the synapses that constitute the primal activity underlying all sensation.

The new art of the electric age sought to convey energy, events and processes, rather than the appearance of objects in space. The first—the urgent—task of the new art became that of developing new forms—often abstract forms—that could convey this new sense of reality.  Because this new art sought to convey processes, not the appearance of things, it would have to be both kinetic and active—it would have to transmit the actual energies of the cosmos/reality to us, and stir us.

 R. Bruce Elder

R. Bruce Elder’s recent book, Cubism and Futurism: Spiritual Machines and the Cinematic Effect (WLU Press, 2018), outlines the electromorphic features of Cubist and Futurist painting, poetry, collage, and film. In the lecture, he will track the development of electromorphic art into the visual and media art of the 1950s, 60s, and 70s. Special attention will be given to the influence the radio had on visual aesthetics.

October 25, 2019

8:30 am – 5:00 pm

University of Windsor
School of Creative Arts (SoCA)
Alan Wildeman Centre for Creative Arts
Multimedia Studio, 360 Freedom Way
Windsor, On, N9A 3A7


Pascale Chapdelaine, Associate Professor, Faculty of Law, University of Windsor
Michael Darroch, Associate Dean, School of Creative Arts, University of Windsor
Vincent Manzerolle, Assistant Professor, Communication, Media & Film, University of Windsor
Philip Morais, JD candidate 2021, Faculty of Law, University of Windsor


This conference brings together scholars from various disciplines including but not limited to law, communication, media, the arts, geography studies, and political science, to reflect on the challenges posed by the regulation of digital media platforms as liminal spaces that undermine clear distinctions between public and private. Topics include social media, big data, and smart cities, personal data sovereignty, algorithmic discrimination, cybersecurity, freedom of expression, and ubiquitous state and corporate surveillance. To address these disparate topics, our conference asks participants to address how the work of Marshall McLuhan on media and space —physical, virtual, public, private, borders, boundaries, environments and anti-environment— may be a point of departure and/or arrival to inform current and future regulatory/legal frameworks addressing digital media? What approaches to media and space help explain contradictions between contemporary globalization (of economies, cultures, technologies) and reassertion of national sovereignty and border controls? What is the relationship between changing media ecosystems and legal systems? Does Canada afford a unique geopolitical vantage point to explore these issues?


8:30-9:00 am – Registration and Breakfast

9:00 am – Opening Remarks

Dr. Christopher Waters, Dean, Windsor Law
Dr. Vincent Georgie, Director, School of Creative Arts
Dr. Pascale Chapdelaine, Associate Professor, Windsor Law

9:15-10:45 am – Panel 1: Keynote Speakers- McLuhan in Space, Local and Global

Andrew McLuhan, Director, The McLuhan Institute, “Snake Oil + Silicon, Big Pharma + Big Tech: human trials and innovation, a modest case for regulation.”

Dr. Elaine Kahn, Author, “Resonate Space: McLuhan and Trudeau, the global village and Canada.”   

Michael Darroch, Associate Professor, SOCA & Associate Dean, Partnership Development & Interdisciplinary Studies, University of Windsor, “Border Environments:  Theorising Media and Culture in the Windsor-Detroit Borderlands, 1943-1946.”

10:45- 11:00 am – Break

11:00 am-12:30 pm – Panel 2: Law Without Walls

Dr. Jeffrey Meyers, Lecturer, Thomson Rivers University, Faculty of Law, “Without Walls: A Possible History of the Present.

Dr. Tetyana (Tanya) Krupiy, Postdoctoral Fellow, Tilburg University, “Social Injustices in the Era of the Fourth Industrial Revolution: The Use of Artificial Intelligence Decision-Making Processes as an Act of Social Engineering.”

Matthew Marinett, SJD Candidate, University of Toronto, Faculty of Law, “Comity’s Double Edge: Reciprocity and Cooperation in Global Internet Takedown Orders.”

12:30-1:45 pm – Lunch

Keynote speaker, David GoodisAssistant Commissioner (Policy & Corporate Services) Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario, “’Womb to Tomb’ Surveillance Concerns with Smart Cities.” 

1:45-3:20 pm – Panel 3: Understanding Media Ecology Spaces

Dr. Jaqueline McLeod Rogers, Dept. Chair, University of Winnipeg, ESP: What if McLuhan was . . . . ?–The Human Computer Interface and Language Transformations.”

Andrey Miroshnichenko, PhD Candidate, York University, “The Question of Zuckerberg’s Guilt: Instrumental vs. Environmental Views of Media.”

Adam Pugen, Ph.D. Candidate, University of Toronto, Faculty of Information, “From the Electric Tribe to the Digital Polis: Exploding the ‘Doctrine of Logos’ Online.”

Dr. Robert Logan, Professor Emeritus, University of Toronto, “McLuhan’s General Theory of Media (GTOM) and the Role of Reversals: Figure/Ground; Concept/Percept; Cause/Effect and Visual/Acoustic Space.”

3:20-3:35 pm – Break

3:35-4:50 pm – Panel 4: Postmodern Picnic in Space

Vincent Manzerolle, Assistant Professor, Communication, Media & Film, University of Windsor. “Cloudy Streams: Grounding the Environment in Digital Media Infrastructure.”

Dr. Nathan Rambukkana, Assistant Professor, Communication Studies, Wilfred Laurier University, “Towards Platform Archaeology.”

Gemma Richardson,  Professor, Humber College, “Blurring Boundaries: Viewing Context Collapse and Surveillance Capitalism on Social Media through the Work of McLuhan.”

4:50-5:00 pm – Concluding Remarks

5:00 pm – Conference Ends

Event Location: University of Windsor, School of Creative Arts (SoCA), Alan Wildeman Centre for Creative Arts, Multimedia Studio, 360 Freedom Way, Windsor, Ontario, N9A 3A7

School of Creative Arts


This unique book describes the media maelstrom of our disharmonious over-heated world today in which, despite ubiquitous connectivity, truthful online information and especially news is disputed and false counter-narratives are presented. The author, B.W. Powe has described his latest book thus:-

We´re experiencing the charge in the global membrane… By this I mean immersion in our electrified technological environment. All the puns in charge implied. Marshall McLuhan was one of the first to recognize we´re wired up, transformed, wholly inside borderless, transnational, instantaneous, entangling, speeding, here-there-everywhere-now states, in an always intensifying mutable milieu.

The global village became the global theatre: the theatre has become the global membrane. This phrase adapts what Teilhard de Chardin called “the noosphere,” the subliminal layering of externalized thought and emotions around our planet, in our era of apogees and abysses. The charge is the recognition of the second creation, the second Big Bang: the experience of technological expansion through electrification and the resulting accelerating streams and pulses of data-energy”… (for a fuller description see

Join us at the Book Launch for B.W. Powe’s new book, “The Charge in the Global Membrane” at York University

Date & Time: Wednesday, October 2, 2019, 4 to 6 PM
Location: The York University Bookstore, York Lanes, Keele Campus, North York
(which is close by the York University TTC Station).

If you’re unfamiliar with the Keele Campus of York University, you can download and print a campus map from here  
York Lanes is clearly indicated just steps from the York TTC Station. It takes approximately half an hour to travel from the St. George TTC Station to the York University Station.

Enthusiastic Reviews for The Charge…

“The Charge in the Global Membrane is an original, mind-stimulating, heart-expanding book and a work of great hybridity. It’s a book of epigraphs (Emily Dickinson contributes two), poems, prayers, mini-biographies (on David Bowie, Bob Dylan, Patti Smith, Joni Mitchell and Leonard Cohen), a handwritten diary, a long letter to the Net generation (Net-gens), mini-essays, memos, proclamations, manifestoes, quotations, questions. A presence ever-powerful and lucid throughout Powe’s pages is the philosopher and mystic Simone Weil, an indispensable Elder of the Tribe”… – By J.S. Porter in Hamilton Arts & Letters
(Read the full review at

“Powe’s Membrane is quite addictive. I read the book (I should say devoured it) in two sittings only interrupted by the need to get some shut-eye resuming my read upon awakening the next morning. Once you start this book it is hard to stop. There are no chapters, no sections, not even page numbers. No preface. No footnotes. No index. One page flows into the next in a non-stop flow of ideas, words, insights, and images. The book itself is a highly charged global membrane.
As the book comes to a close, Powe pens a poignant letter to the Net Gens, the digital natives describing their challenges and what digital media are doing to their brains and their spirits. He offers them his advice for what it is worth”… –
By Robert K. Logan
(Read the full review at

The street art illustrations were selected by Marshall Soules from his collection