Born July 21: Marshall McLuhan   –   This Day in History

July 21, 2016

By Michael Baadke

Canadian educator Marshall McLuhan was an expert in understanding the significance of media and communications, and is respected as an insightful theorist who predicted the decline of printed books and the continuing global expansion of communication that characterizes our world today.

Herbert Marshall McLuhan was born July 21, 1911, in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, and studied at the University of Manitoba and the University of Cambridge, earning degrees from both institutions.

He taught English at St. Louis University and other schools before settling at St. Michael’s College at the University of Toronto in 1946. His attention turned to mass communications, leading to his first published book, The Mechanical Bride, in 1951. McLuhan’s groundbreaking insights brought him growing fame as a philosopher and sought-after public speaker. He introduced the concept of the global village in his 1963 book The Gutenberg Galaxy, and announced in Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man (1964) that “the medium is the message.”

McLuhan contemplated the relationships between humans and new technologies, and became a well-known figure both in intellectual circles and in popular culture.

On Feb. 17, 2000, nearly 20 years after McLuhan’s death, Canada Post issued a 46¢ stamp honoring him, in a set titled Great Thinkers, part of the 1999-2000 Millennium series (Scott 1829a). Source:

picture of John Cage

The New York Times has just reviewed The Selected Letters of John Cage, edited by Laura Kuhn, director of the John Cage Trust. See .  Asked about the connections of music and art to life by composer-editor R.I.P. Hayman, Cage explained why people create art: “Two good reasons: 1) To quiet and sober the mind, thus making it susceptible to divine influences (and since electronics is the extension of the central nervous system – McLuhan – revolution is therefore feasible); 2) to imitate nature in her manner of operation.”


The following excerpt is from a 2012 essay titled JOHN CAGE’S CANADA, which opines that “The twentieth century’s most important avant-garde composer may have been American, but he found his greatest inspiration north of the border”.

Edmonton-born Marshall McLuhan, whose image Cage broadcast during [follow the link to read the full essay] Reunion, happened to be a friend of the composer’s. They had met in 1965 following a few months of exchanging letters. “For several years now, your work is in my mind and entering into what I do and think,” Cage initially wrote. It wasn’t surprising that the first man to write musical scores for electronics was bewitched by the herald of the information age. Though McLuhan was only a year older than Cage, the composer nevertheless saw him as a mentor. “It was like striking flint against a piece of metal,” McLuhan’s son Eric says. “When they got together, they sparked ideas.”

Like Cage, McLuhan thought that artists opened eyes. An artist should help people “notice what the conditions are in which they live and try to work,” Eric says of his father’s ideas. “In other words, pay attention to all the things that they are accustomed to ignoring.” The two men also shared the conviction that “the medium is the message,” a concept McLuhan had famously unpacked in 1964’s Understanding Media. This was in line with Cage’s thinking: he hoped that his music’s meaning would arise from the very act of experiencing it, of being shocked and confused. McLuhan lent Cage the academic theory (and bombastic epigrams) to back up his beliefs.

Cage gushed about McLuhan in the Toronto Star; the Globe and Mail referred to Cage as the “Musical McLuhan.” But perhaps McLuhan’s biggest influence on Cage came in the form of a suggestion for a new work, one that would confound the composer for years, and that eventually evolved into two of his most important Canadian premieres.

From the start, McLuhan and Cage had bonded over their love of James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake. Not surprisingly, it’s a confusing, esoteric text. Cage had first read it serialized as a teenager in Paris, where he’d run away to be a writer after dropping out of university. McLuhan was working on a book that argued that the “thunders”—ten hundred-letter words—in Finnegans Wake described the evolution of human technology. McLuhan suggested that Cage write a piece of music featuring the text of the thunders. The epic work would be called Atlas Borealis with Ten Thunderclaps, and it would be a sonic torrent, blending the words with recordings of actual storms and electronic sounds. Like Atlas Eclipticalis, it would be written with a star map.

In the fall of 1967, McLuhan moved to New York, where Cage lived, for a year. Cage began to say that he was “studying with” McLuhan. He also told the University of Illinois that he’d submit Atlas Borealis for its centennial commission. But in November, McLuhan underwent brain surgery to remove a tumour. It was, at the time, the longest neurological operation ever performed. He suffered extreme pain and memory loss, and visits between the two men temporarily grew less frequent. Atlas Borealis slowed down, too; Cage didn’t complete the work in time for the Illinois commission. But McLuhan’s and Cage’s thinking continued to overlap. McLuhan’s surgery had made him hypersensitive to noises that one would normally ignore. “We’d be walking down the street and he’d stop and say, ‘Did you hear that?’ says Rosenboom. “He’d notice every change in the soundscape.” In effect, McLuhan was forced to live inside Cage’s philosophy. Read the rest at .

See also on this blog Marshall McLuhan & John Cage (2012) at .

McLuhan & “Bucky” Fuller at the Bahamas Conference (1969), Photo by Robert Fleming.

Marshall McLuhan’s 105th birthday will be next Thursday, July 21, which will be celebrated by those around the world who still care about his ideas and legacy. One year ago, the Buckminster Fuller Institute acknowledged McLuhan’s birthday by posting the following 1964 letter from McLuhan to Fuller on their Facebook page:-

Happy 104th birthday, Marshall McLuhan! McLuhan was a visionary Canadian media theorist who predicted the internet 30 years before its invention.

Today we celebrate his friendship with Bucky – check out the fascinating letter and photos below. McLuhan dubbed Bucky the “Leonardo DaVinci of our time”.

“September 17th, 1964

Dear Bucky:

I was not at all happy about missing the seminar this summer. There was too much on the plate here.

Have a good deal of luck in analyzing various problems lately. I enclose a note on one of these. If one says that any new technology creates a new environment, that is better than saying the medium is the message. The content of the new environment is always the old one. The content is greatly transformed by the new technology.

Supersonic flight will create a new environment which makes our present cities somewhat useless. In fact, if they are to be approached within any convenient distance at all, they will have to be “roofed over.” Supersonic take-off and landing alike blow the glass out of a city, so your Dymaxion Dome becomes a necessity, just as much as the road is a necessity for the wheel. One environment creates another.

Would appreciate your suggestions about readings in the matter of technology as creator of environment. Today the environment itself becomes the artefact. The consequences for learning are quite extraordinary. The prepared environment separates the old curriculum.

Warm regards,

Marshall McLuhan”

Buckminster Fuller and McLuhan

Buckminster Fuller & Marshall McLuhan in front of René Cera’s painting Pied Pipers All (Image: Dick Darrell/Getstock) See .

The following comments are Bucky Fuller’s reminiscences about his first meeting with McLuhan, from his Everything I Know, “an extraordinary series of lectures concerning his entire life’s work”, published online by the Buckminster Fuller Institute ).

I first met Marshall McLuhan in Greece, thirteen years ago, and it was on board of a ship, and he somebody spoke to me, and I turned around and realized who it was, so he called to me, and he had two of my books in his hands, and one was NINE CHAINS TO THE MOON and he was just he said “This is my Bible,” and if you ask Marshall about this he’ll tell you his extensions to man, and so forth, came out of this he had the electrical extensions of man and then got into, this brought him into ways of talking about the communication system whatever it may be. But Marshall said, “Bucky, your expressions are old fashioned, and I have a lingo,” so when I talk to you about man backing up into his future, he said, “Bucky it’s called rear-mirrorism.” So he gave me titles. Marshall will tell you this, he really said, and deliberately said, he was enlarging on my ideas. We’re very, very good friends, and these things we’ve said very much out loud on the stage platform together, so that I know what I’m I’m not saying something is offensive. He says that he’s an English scholar, literature scholar, and his memory, incidentally, is incredible of things he has read, and he began to feel that a great many people who he read many books which society didn’t know about, and society was missing some very important things, so he decided really, taking things he had read about that other people had written and began to get society to know about it. But he gets so enthusiastic that he didn’t necessarily always say, I am extending this person’s idea. His idea he began to make it his own as he began to develop it, which is very reasonable. But he is a man of integrity, so if you check with him about it, he will say, yes, that is correct. That his enthusiasm carried away and he forgot to give footnotes of where he got that. Source: 


The McLuhan Centre for Culture and Technology

The University of St. Michael’s College

The McLuhan Legacy Network

 A Celebration of Marshall McLuhan’s 105th Birthday


Date and Time: July 21 from 5:00 to 8:00 PM

Location: The McLuhan Centre for Culture and Technology (The Coach House), 39 A Queen’s Park Crescent E, Toronto

This is a public event open to all those interested in McLuhan’s work and legacy.
The Agenda:
  • An Informal Reception from 5:00 to 6:00 PM during which sandwiches, veggies, fruit and non-alcoholic drinks will be served.
  • Formal segment from 6:00 to 8:00 PM that will include the following:
    • A Report on the Media Ecology Association Meeting held in Bologna June 23-26, with Paolo Granata, Alex Kuskis and Bob Logan;
    •  A Report on coming events at the McLuhan Centre for Culture and Technology, With David Nostbakken and Paolo Granata;
    •  A General Discussion of things McLuhan in the context of the upcoming conference, “The Toronto School, Then | Now | Next.”

New Coach Hose

Thank goodness that the Powers That Be at the iSchool, Faculty of Information, at the University of Toronto have corrected the mistake of naming Marshall McLuhan’s famous Centre for Culture and Technology after an obsolesced architectural structure (“coach house”), in itself of little value, instead of the man who made this modest little building world famous!Edit Link

Marshall McLuhan outside the Coach House Institute (courtesy of Robert Lansdale Photography, U of Toronto Archives)

U of T’s Coach House Institute has long been associated with Marshall McLuhan, one of the university’s most famous professors. And now, the interdisciplinary institute in the Faculty of Information, is being renamed in his honour as the McLuhan Centre for Culture and Technology. 

“It is fitting and appropriate to regard the base of McLuhan’s teachings as a McLuhan Centre,” said Faculty of Information dean Wendy Duff. “Back in the 1960s, McLuhan’s Coach House teachings stimulated and challenged students to fully use their creative imagination in understanding how we shape technologies, and how they, in turn, shape us.” 

The name change comes about in the midst of renewed activities and extensive planning under the leadership of McLuhan Centre Interim Director Seamus Ross, who has engaged McLuhan Centenary Fellows David Nostbakken and Paolo Granata, and more recently McLuhan Program Director Sarah Sharma, with a goal of “developing opportunities to extend McLuhan’s formative insights on culture and technology to reach across new terrain, including a Toronto that is very different today than it was when McLuhan was writing,” according to Sharma.

Ross agreed, saying “the poetic probes and multidisciplinary approaches of Marshall McLuhan in the past century have emerged as prescient for our current rapidly changing world. The McLuhan name itself stands for the strength of creative inquiry.”

McLuhan’s son, Michael McLuhan, said it “warms the heart” to see the legacy of his father’s work at the Centre enshrined by this renaming, where “so much foundational, ground breaking work was done in the emerging field of media studies.”

McLuhan spent his career as a professor of English at the University of Toronto. The McLuhan Centre preserves and honors his intellectual heritage by fostering and supporting innovative scholarship and interdisciplinary research in the broad field of humanities, according to the tradition of the so-called Toronto School of Communication. The centre had its beginnings when on October 24, 1963, John Kelly, president of St. Michael’s College, and U of T president Claude Bissell together decided to establish a Centre for Culture and Technology, which later became McLuhan’s office in the English Department at St. Michael’s College.

Read more about the history of the McLuhan Centre

The centre will be officially renamed at a conference later this year called “Toronto School, Then, Now, Next” celebrating and building upon the work of McLuhan, Harold Innis, Walter Ong, Eric Havelock, Northrop Frye, and Glen Gould, among others.



Call for Papers for La Revue D’Études Interculturelles de L’Image | Journal of Cross-Cultural Image Studies

| en français |

“The artist tends now to move from the ivory tower to the control tower of society”. —Marshall McLuhan, Understanding Media (1964)

This special issue exploring “Marshall McLuhan and the arts” encourages new approaches to the study of McLuhan’s influential theses on perception, design, and the built environment as well as the artist’s changing role in postindustrial society. Submissions will excavate previously unknown, or lesser-known, narratives and linkages, and/or engage contemporary resonances and possibilities for intersection with current critical theories and debates.

Recent years have been witness to McLuhan’s re-emergence as a major interdisciplinary thinker whose writings bridge the study of communication, culture, and technology. The computational, materialist and sensorial foci of his thought offer suggestive alternatives to approaches and assumptions embedded in the linguistic turn. Our volume calls for papers that explore his work on design, perception, and visualization as well as how his insights continue to inform or otherwise connect up with current art and design production as well as theories about their place and meaning in contemporary culture.

McLuhan rose to prominence as a public intellectual in the mid-1960s; his scholarship was always responsive to contemporary developments and unfolded as a series of shifting collaborations. As a result, his work registers the impact of that decade of disruptive change on such topics of continuing relevance as networks, embodiment, and sensory knowing (among others). Yet it is not only in reading the work of his contemporaries—Jaqueline Tyrwhitt, Buckminster Fuller, and even Jane Jacobs, to name but a few—that one hears echoes of McLuhan. Equally interesting are the ways in which current art and design theory invokes this history, sometimes directly, yet more often without fully acknowledging McLuhan’s legacy. Amidst the contemporary climate of crisis, we encourage new and inclusive perspectives on McLuhan’s modelling of the dynamics of art and social change.

We invite papers that engage the historic McLuhan, as well as those that decipher his influence—acknowledged or indirect—on current practices and theories. We are planning to work with the following three-part structure, although these categories may shift on the basis of submissions. The following topics are suggestions not restrictions:

1) Contributions, sources, and after-images:

– McLuhan, Sigfried Giedion, and “anonymous” histories of material culture
– Symbolism, Cubism, and environmental art
– Design and urban planning
– McLuhan on multi-modalities and sensory perception
– McLuhan as art “theorist”
– Futurism and Accelerationism
– Art and computation, information art, algorithmic culture, and museum culture

2) McLuhan and artists:

– Influential artists in his life (e.g., Glenn Gould, Harley Parker and Wyndham Lewis)
– Advertising and commercial design
– Artists inspired by McLuhan (e.g., John Cage, Nam June Paik)
– Possibilities for adapting (or complicating/contesting) McLuhan’s insights today
– The artist as corporate consultant, or “drop-in”

3) McLuhan as artist:

– Mosaic and other non-linear forms
– Collaborations
– Interaction of image and text; text as art
– Art and public engagement/education
– McLuhan as performance artist

Submission Guidelines

Essays should be between 2500 and 8000 words in length in either English or French.

In keeping with the mandate of the journal, pieces may include visual content as part of their argumentation rather than simply as supplemental material. Scholars, artists, and curators are encouraged to submit proposals: we ask that artists and curators contextualize their work with academic analyses, and we encourage academics to incorporate visual elements, including photography and other visual art as part of their analyses.

Please send full submissions by October 15, 2016 to: and

Please include a 100-word abstract and a 100-word bio.

Please include any images separately, as well as embedded in the submission, as high-resolution (300-dpi) files.


<< L’artiste tend aujourd’hui à se déplacer de la tour d’ivoire à la tour de contrôle de la société.>> — Marshall McLuhan, Pour comprendre les médias (1964)

Ce numéro spécial « Marshall McLuhan et les arts » propose d’explorer de nouvelles perspectives dans l’étude des thèses majeures de McLuhan sur la perception, le design et l’environnement urbain, ainsi que sur le rôle de l’artiste dans la société postindustrielle. Les contributeurs sont invités à analyser des textes déjà connus ou peu étudiés, à les comparer et à souligner leurs résonnances avec les théories critiques contemporaines.

Depuis quelques années, nous assistons à une reviviscence des recherches sur McLuhan autour de la portée interdisciplinaire de ses écrits qui permet d’établir des liens entre les études sur la communication, les études culturelles et la technologie, pour ne citer que trois domaines.  En outre, l’intérêt de McLuhan pour les médias, et plus généralement pour les mondes matériel et sensoriel, offre des alternatives stimulantes aux approches critiques ancrées dans le linguistic turn. Ce numéro d’Imaginations sollicite des articles qui approfondissent les recherches de McLuhan sur le design, la perception, et la visualisation. Nous proposons d’étudier comment ses idées continuent d’être d’actualité et de trouver des échos dans les productions artistiques et dans le design contemporain, ainsi que dans les théories sémiotiques ou dans le domaine de la rhétorique.

Marshall McLuhan a connu une grande notoriété comme intellectuel public au milieu des années 1960. Ses recherches se sont sans cesse alignés sur les avancées contemporaines et ont donné lieu à une série de collaborations novatrices. Ainsi, son travail évoque les années 1960 comme une décennie de grands changements dans la cybernétique, dans les médias, dans les connaissances sur la neurologie des sens, etc. Néanmoins, l’influence de McLuhan n’est pas seulement perceptible dans les travaux de ses contemporains –Jaqueline Tyrwhitt, Buckminster Fuller, ou Jane Jacobs, pour ne nommer que ceux-ci. Elle l’est également dans les théories sur l’art et le design aujourd’hui qui évoquent son parcours parfois ouvertement, parfois hélas sans reconnaître entièrement son héritage. C’est pourquoi, dans le climat contemporain de crises diverses, nous invitons les chercheurs à considérer des approches nouvelles et inclusives sur la manière dont McLuhan inspire et sert de modèle à des dynamiques de transformation dans les arts et la société.

Nous souhaitons recevoir des articles qui réfléchissent aux travaux de McLuhan d’un point de vue historique, et qui explorent son influence –directe ou indirecte– sur des pratiques et théories contemporaines.

À ces fins, nous proposons trois axes de réflexion, bien que d’autres perspectives soient aussi envisageables :

1/ Contributions, sources et après-images :

– McLuhan, Sigfried Giedion, et histoires « anonymes » de la culture matérielle
– Symbolisme, cubisme, et art de l’environnement
– Design et planification urbaine
– McLuhan face aux multi-modalités de la perception sensorielle
– McLuhan comme « théoricien » de l’art
– Futurisme et accélérationnisme
– Art et ordinateurs, art et cybernétique, culture algorithmique, culture des musées

2/ McLuhan et les artistes

– Artistes qui l’ont influencé (ex. Glenn Gould, Harley Parker, Wyndham Lewis)
– Publicité et design commercial
– Artistes influencés par McLuhan (ex. John Cage, Nam June Paik)
– Possibilités d’adopter (ou de contester/critiquer) les idées de McLuhan aujourd’hui
– L’artiste comme consultant corporatif

3/ McLuhan l’artiste :

– Mosaïque et autres formes non-linéaires
– Collaborations
– Interactions entre texte et image ; le texte comme art visuel
– Art et engagement/éducation publique
– McLuhan comme artiste performeur

Consignes aux auteurs

Les articles doivent être de 2500 à 8000 mots, en anglais ou en français. Suivant le mandat de la revue, peuvent contenir des images. Nous invitons les chercheurs, mais aussi les artistes et commissaires d’exposition à soumettre texte ou intervention. Il est recommandé aux artistes et aux commissaires d’exposition d’accorder leur travail pratique avec les exigences de la recherche académique. De même, les chercheurs universitaires sont invités à inclure du matériel visuel à leurs textes afin d’enrichir leurs analyses.

Veuillez soumettre votre texte pour le 15 octobre 2016 à et

Votre soumission doit accompagnée d’un résumé de 100 mots et d’une notice bio-bibliographique de la même longueur. Veuillez joindre vos images haute résolution (300-dpi) séparément et les inclure dans le texte.


Photograph of Professors Arthur Porter and Marshall McLuhan, with artist René Cera, admiring Cera's mural PIED PIPER ALL, Centre for Culture and Technology, University of Toronto, 1969. Photograph by Robert Lansdale

Professors Arthur Porter and Marshall McLuhan, with artist René Cera, admiring Cera’s mural Pied Piper All, the Centre for Culture and Technology, University of Toronto, 1969. Photograph by Robert Lansdale

“Racoon” from the Liz Magor: Habitude exhibition at the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal. (Scott Massey)

Two artists channel Marshall McLuhan in Montreal exhibition

Robert Everett-Green

Marshall McLuhan’s most radical idea was that everything we make also remakes us. Two new exhibitions at Montreal’s Musée d’art contemporain grapple with this proposition from very different perspectives. Liz Magor, who was born in 1948, works with what McLuhan called the material extensions of the body – clothes especially, but also shelters and implements. Ryan Trecartin, who was born in 1981, is all about electronic extensions, particularly cellphone cameras, social media and reality TV.

Magor’s pieces typically juxtapose a ready-made – a manufactured thing such as cigarettes or liquor bottles, or a dead bird – with cast replicas of other ordinary things – gloves, towels or cardboard boxes. The cast item is often the container or concealment device for the ready-made. What looks like two piles of folded towels in Double Cabinet (Blue) is actually a hollow space packed with cases of beer. Aside from the failed deception, the use of the laboriously handmade things as the frame for the manufactured objects tells you something about how this Vancouver artist sees their relative importance in her work.

“Through some mysterious operation,” she says in an interview published in the exhibition catalogue, “the found things become really alive when set against the sculptural representation of something ordinary. … Even a dead bird is more alive than the replica of a cardboard box.”

There you have the kernel of what most of the work in the MAC’s four-decade retrospective is about: Magor’s fascination with the mystery through which an artist’s replica gives new meaning to something plucked from the world. I think the mystery has something to do with the felt nature of time, which runs differently for commodities that have “the potential to return to the world and resume their business,” as Magor says, than for a piece made to be walled up in a museum.


Ryan Trecartin sometimes makes objects, but is best known for the riotous claustrophobic videos he produces with Lizzie Fitch and a host of other artists, actors and friends. One of the earliest, and perhaps the only one with a sole performer, is Kitchen Girl (2001), a three-minute short in which Fitch drags a baby carriage upstairs, screaming the whole time, and then cooks a boot for two children who are actually bulbous stuffed toys. It’s a fairy tale gone mad, and its most telling feature is that once Fitch is in the kitchen, she does everything with a microphone in her hand.

The three group videos from 2013 included in Priority Innfield, a version of which has shown at the Venice Biennale, belong to another era, after the explosion of social media. In these films, the fourth wall that kept Fitch from acknowledging Trecartin’s sneaking hand-held camera in Kitchen Girl has become a picture window, polished to a blinding sheen by the Internet and phone cameras.

Everyone primps and preens for the camera in harsh frontal lighting, while saying things such as, “No one has a name yet,” and “One of the most elegant things about facts is that I believe them.” The cast forms a competitive bitchy fellowship that feels more real than they do individually. Their constant upstaging and photo-bombing often looks like an enactment of Candy Darling’s comment about making films at Warhol’s Factory: “Whichever one of us is the pushiest gets to be the star.” Read the the full review at .

Photo of Musee d'art contemporain de MontrealMusee d’art contemporain de Montreal

While certain characters, such as Marshal McLuhan and Northrop Frye, resemble real people, this is a work of fiction
“Lennie Boyd entered the scene in a tumultuous decade which he helped create, and it took all he had.”
The Devil’s Party: Who Killed the Sixties?   –   By Bob Rodgers
“The Devil’s Party is unapologetically a ‘literary’ novel about literary people.”
The Devil’s Party follows Jason, an intellectual tenderfoot, and Lennie, a charismatic and tortured literary phenomenon, as they finish their Bachelor’s degrees in Manitoba and begin graduate school at the University of Toronto. Driven by the works of William Blake and mentored by intellectual heavy-weights Northrop Frye and Marshall McLuhan, the pair dive into the rabbit hole of scholastic passions and set out to wrestle with the ruling elite and rattle the ‘mind-forged manacles’ of the complacent majority. Their stories echo a culture stepping away from the quiescent 1950s towards the turbulent and dramatic ‘60s, and together they wrestle with the birth of new ideas and the burden of knowledge that threatens to consume them.
The Devil’s Party traces the rise and fall of the spirit of protest in the 1960s through the exploits of Lennie Boyce. A product of Winnipeg’s storied North End, Lennie explodes on the campus of the University of Manitoba in 1958 as a Wunderkind, with a phobia for social niceties and a tongue like a switch blade.

An upstart from the wilds of Northern Manitoba, Jason Faraday joins Lennie’s circle. Lennie’s forebears are Ukrainian; Jason’s Irish. Lennie considers them both spawn of the derelicts of Europe. A bond is formed which sees them through graduation and, at the dawn of the 60s, off to graduate school at the University of Toronto. Their paths continue to cross throughout the 60s.

Lennie’s spiritual soulmates are Spengler and Blake. For him they are the great decoders of history. His University of Toronto mentors include Northrop Frye and Marshall McLuhan and a number of others who enter the story under their own names. But not all is poetry and high culture. There are perilous clashes with authority back to back with bizarre sexual peccadilloes. There is something of Raskolnikov in Lennie, also something of Tom Jones.

Lennie assails what he sees as the smug complacency of the elite, the grim rectitude of the moral majority, the obsessive materialism of the obedient classes, the brainwashing of the populace by warmongers, giant corporations, their lackeys in brain washing, the growing irrelevance of the universities, and above all the sanctimonious spoilers of sexual joy. Teaching at the University of Manitoba he quickly gets a reputation as a firebrand. Among his students and his more stout-hearted colleagues, he becomes a lodestone who draws them into his vision of the rampage for change sweeping the world. Read more about the book at .

About Bob Rodgers: Bob Rodgers taught English at McGill and the University of Toronto before moving into film and television. As executive producer at the U of T Media Centre he wrote, produced, and/or directed more than 100 educational programs, among them a 30 part series: “The Bible and Literature, a Personal View by Northrop Frye”. Later as freelance filmmaker he made documentaries for the NFB (“Fiddlers of James Bay”) and the CBC National Network (“NWT: One-third of Canada”). In 2001 Bob self-published a short story collection, “Secrets From Home”. He has since written two novels: “Hot Ice”, about diamonds, ecology, and caribou in NWT; and “The Devil’s Party”, his take on the 1960s among the fledgling literati of the counter-culture.
Read the book review of Robert Fulford in the National Post (June 27, 2016): Bob Rodgers examines who killed the ’60s by bringing Canadian icons back to life on the page – . Thanks to Ruthanne Wrobel for this information.
This book is available from and
The Coach House
Marshall McLuhan at his Coach House at St. Michael’s College

Historic home open for public tours

The home has an official historic designation and was where McLuhan grew up.

Samantha Power

The home has an official historic designation and was where McLuhan grew up.

Marshall McLuhan preached that the “medium was the message” and for the next week anyone will be able to take their own impressions from his historic family home.

The doors are open at the author and intellectual’s historic home in Highlands this week. The micro museum celebrates McLuhan and his affect on the media world.

“He’s a pretty important thinker from Edmonton,” says Chelsea Boos, programming coordinator with Arts Habitat Edmonton, which now runs the space. “He was forecasting the kinds of things that we’re dealing with before anyone else had thought to look at T.V. or media at all.”

Arts Habitat took over the space in 2013, after city council helped fund the purchases and protected the home as a heritage property.

The house has been open on a limited basis since, January but will be much more available for the rest of this week. Stuart McKay, the family genealogist, provides the family history in the main floor of the home which showcases historical family portraits and McLuhan’s library of works, as well as a T.V. wall installation.

The house also provides arts residency space through the Tennis Club, an artist collective. After six months of operations Boos is most proud of getting this space up and running.

“Having them here as another energy that adds to the space,” says Boos. “It works conceptually really well with the neighbourhood.”

Boos is hoping the community connection will continue to grow as the McLuhan House settles more into the neighbourhood.

“I’d like for it to become a more organic process,” says Boos.

Tour Info: Self-guided walking tour   –   July 4-8   –   1:00pm – 7:00pm

11342-64 St. Edmonton, Alberta, Canada


Taking Up McLuhan's Cause


Distributed for Intellect Books

270 pages | 7 x 9 | © 2016 | November Publication
 This book brings together a number of prominent scholars to explore a relatively under-studied area of Marshall McLuhan’s thought: his idea of formal cause and the role that formal cause plays in the emergence of new technologies and in structuring societal relations. Aiming to open a new way of understanding McLuhan’s thought in this area, and to provide methodological grounding for future media ecology research, the book runs the gamut, from contributions that directly support McLuhan’s arguments to those that see in them the germs of future developments in emergent dynamics and complexity theory.


Graham Harman, American University in Cairo
“Very good essays on a crucial intellectual topic. . . . I’m hopeful that this anthology will help kick off another McLuhan movement . . rooted in McLuhan’s place in the great tradition of philosophies of causation.”


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