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

Editors | Adam Lauder and Jaqueline McLeod Rogers

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 try to 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 includes 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…

Marshall McLuhan and the Arts after the Speculative Turn | Adam Lauder and Jaqueline McLeod Rogers

Printing a Film to Make it Resonate: Sorel Etrog and Marshall McLuhan’s Spiral | Elena Lamberti

Mansaram and Marshall McLuhan: Collaboration in Collage Art | Alexander Kuskis

Critique, texte et art contemporain. Repenser l’héritage de Marshall McLuhan aujourd’hui | Adina Balint

Songlines, not Stupor: Cheryl L’Hirondelle’s nikamon ohci aski: songs because of the land as Technological Citizenship on the Lands Currently Called “Canada” | Jessica Jacobson-Konefall, May Chew, and Daina Warren

McLuhan’s Photographic Gestalt (and the project of the object world) | Tom McGlynn

L(a)ying with Marshall McLuhan: Media Theory as Hoax Art | Henry Adam Svec

Marshall McLuhan’s Counterenvironment within the Stream of Defamiliarization | Kenneth Allan

Our World: McLuhan’s Idea of Globalized Presence as the Prehistory of Computational Temporality | Mohammad Salemy

Assembling the (Non)Human: The Animal as Medium | Jody Berland

The Designscapes of Harley Parker: Print and Built Environments | Gary Genosko

This issue is located at


Guest Editors: Jaqueline McLeod Rogers and Adam Lauder
Editor-in-Chief: Sheena Wilson
Managing Editors: Brent Ryan Bellamy
English Substantive and Copy Editor: Shama Rangwala
French Translator: Ève Robidoux-Descary
French Editor: Dominique Laurent
Web Editor: Brent Ryan Bellamy
PDF Layout and Design: John Montague
Featured Image: Tom McGlynn, Painted-Over Crosswalk, Jersey City, 2016

8-3 Full Issue PDF Coming Soon |


Date & Time: Thursday, December 7, 2017, 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM

Location: Rogers Communications Centre (The Venn RCC 103), 80 Gould Street, Ryerson University, Toronto

Description: Join the McLuhan Salons series, and Philippine correspondent for Reuters and McLuhan Award for Investigative Journalism, Manny Mogato. Mogato will present the topic: “Journalism under attack: The phenomenon of fake news and challenges of accountability in the new media” in which he discusses the spread of fake news in the Philippines and how this undermines the news media’s role. His 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 respond to the threats of fake news and the lack of accountability by purveyors of false information?”

Welcome remarks:
Janice Neil, Ryerson University
Paolo Granata, University of Toronto

Special Guests:
Michael McLuhan, Executor Marshall McLuhan Estate
Carlo Figueroa, Public Affairs Officer, Embassy of Canada

This event is presented by the University of St. Michael’s College, Book & Media Studies Program at the University of Toronto, in conjunction with the Embassy of Canada in the Philippines and Ryerson School of Journalism. We are grateful for the support of the Faculty of Communication and Design at Ryerson Rogers Communication Centre, as our venue partner.

The McLuhan Salon series is generously supported by the William and Nona Heaslip Foundation.

The event is free and open to the public. You are encouraged to register online at:

This year’s McLuhan Fellow is Manny Mogato, correspondent for Reuters. A journalist for more than thirty years, Mr. Mogato is the first Filipino correspondent for an international news agency to receive the McLuhan Fellowship. Perhaps one of the most veteran Filipino journalists writing for the foreign press, he started his career in during the last few years of the Marcos dictatorship. During the turbulent democratic transition under the administration of Corazon Aquino, he covered the defense and military beats and became part of the presidential press corps during the Ramos presidency in 1992. In 1997, he was assistant news editor of the Manila Times until it was closed down due to political pressure from then President Joseph Estrada. He later joined Reuters.
Mr. Mogato has been an active member of the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines (FOCAP) which elected him as its president three times and a member of the board for more than 12 years. As a journalist, he has covered conflicts and insurgencies, health concerns, human rights, international affairs, politics, and general news assignments. He has also been teaching as a professorial lecturer at the University of the City of Manila.
Last May, he and the Reuters team in Manila received the Special Merit Award – English Multimedia Category in the Human Rights Press Awards for their multimedia series, “Duterte’s War,” detailing the current Philippine president’s campaign against illegal drugs. The event was co-organized by the Foreign Correspondents’ Club Hong Kong and the Hong Kong Journalists Association with Amnesty International Hong Kong. Mr. Mogato won the McLuhan Fellowship for his excellent reportage of issues surrounding human rights and international diplomacy.

The Marshall McLuhan Fellowship is the Embassy of Canada’s flagship public diplomacy initiative in the Philippines. Launched in 1997, this is an advocacy to encourage responsible journalism in the Philippines with the belief that a strong media is essential to a strong democratic society.
Every year, the Manila-based Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility(CMFR) assists the Embassy in choosing a Filipino journalist whose work has contributed to positive changes in the social arena or at least has raised the level of public discourse in a relevant issue usually concerning governance and human rights.

The program provides the winner with a two-week study tour to Canada including at least three major cities. This will be an opportunity for the winner to interact with his media counterparts, and to discuss significant current issues on governance with Canadian government officials, academic interlocutors and members of civil society. The winner will also have the chance to visit as a fellow at the McLuhan Institute in Toronto. Upon the return of the awardee to the Philippines, a series of forums is organized by the Embassy to be held in five key cities around the country to enable the journalist to share his experiences in Canada with students of communication and members of the local and community media.

Aside from contributing to good governance by raising transparency in the public arena, the McLuhan Fellowship also aims to create in the long-term a critical group of influential media personalities with good knowledge and interest in Canadian issues or at least the values Canada stands for: democracy, good governance, and human rights.

Rogers Communication Centre

Blending light, sound, video projections, and movement, Wells Hill explores the prescient ideas of Marshall McLuhan and Glenn Gould. (Photo by David Cooper)

In 1962, Canadian media theorist Marshall McLuhan effectively predicted the Internet. In The Gutenberg Galaxy, he wrote about an electronic age when technology would unite people in a “global village” where everyone had equal access to information. Two years later, in his book Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man, he went on to talk about how the method of communication would become the most influential fact of the electronic age. Hello, smartphones: by 2017, we know more than ever that “the medium is the message.” 

As a dance artist, Vanessa Goodman feels that one of the most eerily prescient things McLuhan said was that technology would become an extension of our physical selves. Consider the way we jump to attention when our cellphone buzzes in our pocket. “With what we’re experiencing now, I feel there’s a strong relevance to revisit what he said,” the Action at a Distance artistic director tells the Straight over the phone before rehearsal at SFU Woodward’s. “So much of what he predicted has come true.”

In fact, Goodman has devoted three years to exploring those ideas physically, sonically, and visually in her multimedia Wells Hill.

But Goodman’s fascination with the theorist goes far beyond the artistic and into the realm of the personal. She grew up in the Toronto house where McLuhan once lived—the Tudor-style residence at 29 Wells Hill Avenue.

“My parents were always interested in art: my dad owned a jazz club for a short while, my mom was an art conservator. And I can’t remember a time when I didn’t know it was Marshall McLuhan’s house,” Goodman says, recalling that her parents never painted over a basement wall where McLuhan’s son Michael had scrawled his name.

She also clearly remembers the day a commemorative plaque was dedicated at the house site. “That’s when they revealed to my family just how many amazing people had come to the house and met with Marshall in his study. And one was Glenn Gould.”

Here’s where the story gets even more bizarre. It turns out that Goodman’s parents had also lived in Gould’s former Toronto apartment before she was born. “It was one of those weird moments and intersections,” says the choreographer, who explores the way McLuhan and Gould’s theories intersected and contradicted throughout Wells Hill—and the way they altered how we consume art and information. (Photo below by Ben Didier)

Flashforward to a few years ago, and Goodman was relaying that anecdote to Michael Boucher, director of SFU’s Cultural Programs & Partnerships, when he encouraged her to take on the two icons and their complex concepts in her next work. At first, Goodman, who had just won the 2013 Iris Garland Emerging Choreographer Award, admits she felt trepidation. “They’re both such prolific characters and icons in their own right,” she says. “But when I started to read their material, I realized I could apply these theories to create dance. I began to find my way through: my medium is movement and my message is that I’m interested in embodiment.”

Goodman slowly began building the work, integrating low-fi and high-tech elements, from the electronic soundscore by Scott Morgan (of Loscil) and Gabriel Saloman to projections that include sometimes glitched-out black-and-white footage of McLuhan and Gould speaking. (Goodman collaborated with Ben Didier and Milton Lim on the projections.) For those video elements, she applied multiple processes, working from original film of the two men, and then employing everything from an old cathode-ray projector to VHS recording.

“I like to use older technology to make something new,” Goodman says. “I even made a lo-fi hologram for this [version].

“It’s always my goal to make an immersive environment—to make the room dance,” she adds, bringing to mind her 2014 work with the Contingency Plan, What Belongs to You, which created an ethereal, ever-moving environment with just sheets of plastic and a few hundred balloons. “That’s always my puzzle.”

Wells Hill has evolved since shorter versions appeared at the Chutzpah Festival, the Shadbolt Centre for the Arts, and Small Stage. It features seven dancers: Lara Barclay, Karissa Barry, Dario Dinuzzi, Bynh Ho, Arash Khakpour, Alexa Mardon, and Bevin Poole. And Goodman says she’s now split the new, full-length rendition into two distinct sections. “The piece works chronologically: the first part is pre-Internet and the second is post-Internet—or at least, where we are today,” Goodman says. “So the second is the hyperspeed essence of our consumption of information today.”

Staging the work at Simon Fraser University, where she earned her degree at the School for the Contemporary Arts, brings her full circle: she presented a short, early work there in 2010 when the Woodward’s site opened its Fei and Milton Wong Experimental Theatre. But the program is also part of Celebrate Canada 150+, and joins the international DanceHouse presentation series.

“DanceHouse has been incredibly influential to me: it’s inspired me to study abroad and study with some of those companies,” Goodman says. “They have actually blown my mind with some of their programming, so I’m pinching myself that I’m part of that.”

And the real house that she grew up in? Although it doesn’t make its way into Wells Hill in any literal fashion, it still plays a huge role in Goodman’s personal life. “It’s where I go when I go there to visit family,” she says. “I still sleep in the same bed.”

SFU Woodward’s Cultural Programs, DanceHouse, and SFU’s School for the Contemporary Arts present Wells Hill at the Fei and Milton Wong Experimental Theatre from Friday to Sunday (November 24 to 26).
(Source: )

Action At a Distance: Wells Hill

Nov. 24 & 25 at 8 p.m. and Nov. 26, 2017, at 2 p.m. | Fei and Milton Wong Experimental Theatre, SFU Gold Corp Centre for the Arts, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, British Columbia

According to Vanessa Goodman, a “weird Canadiana moment” inspired her latest work.

The Vancouver-based choreographer grew up in a Toronto house once inhabited by Marshall McLuhan and his family. At a 2011 commemorative plaque ceremony for the house, the McLuhans informed the Goodmans that Glenn Gould, among others, would visit to speak to the esteemed Canadian media critic.

“This struck me,” said Goodman. “Coincidentally, my parents lived in the same apartment building that Gould lived in before they moved into the house.”

This week, Goodman and her company Action at a Distance present the world premiere of Wells Hill. It’s a contemporary dance piece informed by the ideas and philosophies of the two Canadian cultural icons.

Part of the choreographer’s approach has been to look at how technology has influenced not just our thoughts and actions but also our physical movements.

“McLuhan predicted that technology was going to be an extension of our nervous system,” she said.

“And today we have these Pavlovian responses to our devices. Something lights up, like a notification, and we are automatically drawn to it. Our movements are so predetermined by our interactions with technology. For me, there’s a logic to finding those connections through dance.”

Gould’s ideas about performance, as well as excerpts from his recordings, are also incorporated.

In coming up with the piece, Goodman collaborated with seven dancers. They are Lara Barclay, Karissa Barry, Dario Dinuzzi, Bynh Ho, Arash Khakpour, Alexa Mardon and Bevin Poole.

“I gave them an excerpt of text by McLuhan, and I asked them to transpose it into emojis on their cellphone,” she said. “From there, I tasked them with developing those emojis into gestural phrases. And from there we developed them into larger movement phrases.”

Goodman has structured Wells Hill in two parts — pre- and post-internet.

“In the second half, the language of the piece is strongly linked to these emoji phrases, these new ways that we’re figuring out how to communicate. McLuhan was generating a lot of inspiration for his theories from Renaissance pamphlets. In a sense, we’re going back in time to use pictorial images to describe how we’re feeling emotionally. So there is that through-line in there.”

Goodman is also working with lighting designer James Proudfoot, projection artists Ben Didier and Milton Lim, and composers Scott Morgan (who records under the name Loscil) and Gabriel Saloman.

SFU Woodward’s Cultural Programs commissioned the piece, which is co-presented by DanceHouse and SFU’s School for the Contemporary Arts. The recipient of the 2013 Iris Garland Emerging Choreographer Award, Goodman has created works for the Dancing on the Edge Festival, The Gwaii Trust, and Vancouver Biennale. The Canada Dance Festival, The Magnetic North Festival, The Dance Centre, and The Chutzpah! Festival have all presented her work.

Although its original inspiration is in ideas, Wells Hill also works on a more visceral level.

“At its core, it’s really about the medium, which is the movement, and the message, which is that at the end of the day we have our bodies,” Goodman said.

“Anytime I start to feel overwhelmed by the vast amounts of information that’s out there on these two individuals (McLuhan and Gould), I come back to what my entry-point is, which is the physical, emotional conversation with the bodies, and the stagecraft. That is the base layer for the whole work.” Source:

Marshall McLuhan’s Last House at 3 Wychwood Park, Toronto

Upon his return [in 1968 from his academic year at Fordham University in New York], the McLuhan family—with most of their six children grown and moved out—relocated from their quiet Tudor-style house at 29 Wells Hill Avenue, near Casa Loma, to 3 Wychwood Park.                                                             The McLuhans’ home was an Edwardian mansion designed by Eden Smith (who had built his own home on the same street) in a wooded area that had been conceived as an artists’ retreat at the turn of the 20th century by landscape painter Marmaduke Matthews. It was described as “baronial” by one visitor impressed by its oak paneling and high ceilings. As Marchand says, McLuhan loved the house dearly and “enjoyed showing it off to visitors with a simple-hearted pride.” Intellectuals and politicians and others were frequent guests, discussing ideas at the dinner table or outside on the elegant stone terrace. “Anybody who came to visit had a tour of the park,” McLuhan’s daughter Elizabeth told the Globe and Mail in 2008. “Nobody left without a walk around.”
It was McLuhan’s ritual that he and wife Corrine walked around the park daily. McLuhan was particularly fond of the park’s pond—created by Taddle Creek surfacing briefly on its southeasterly course through the city. He described the neighbourhood lovingly in a 1969 letter to a friend: “Our house is No. 3 and is the only house on a lovely pond in the heart of Toronto….The pond ripples outward into a heavily treed neighbourhood of twenty-two acres and fifty-four houses. The Park has no ‘roads’ or sidewalks, but simply these ‘Viconean’ circles of homes and people in a most unusual, dramatic relationship.”
Wychwood Park deeply affected McLuhan’s view of urban community. In Marshall McLuhan: Escape into Understanding (Stoddart, 1997), W. Terrence Gordon quotes McLuhan as writing:

Previously, I have only lived on streets, which sometimes have the quality of neighbourhood, but lineality is not compatible with community. The community character of Wychwood Park is a direct result of the circular compositioning of the houses, resulting from Wychwood pond. When houses interface by their circular or oval compositioning, a kind of social resonance develops that does not depend upon a high degree of social life or visiting among the occupants. Rather, there occurs a sense of theatre, as if all the occupants were, in varying degrees, on a stage. Something of the sort happens in any small village, and builders and planners could easily achieve rich community effects (even without a pond) simply by locating dwellings in non-lineal patterns.”

So McLuhan and neighbours, like architect Colin Vaughan, reacted strongly when they learned that proposed concrete apartment high-rises to be built on Davenport Road, immediately south of the park, threatened their neighbourhood. After seeking guidance from Jane Jacobs, who lived nearby in the Annex, they took their fight to City Hall. Ultimately, however, McLuhan and company were unsuccessful in convincing city council to halt the plans. (Source:


This unique website that is dedicated to Marshall McLuhan’s best-selling book is comprised of 6 sections:-
1. The Lecture, which offers an audio capture of Marshall McLuhan’s lecture as delivered on May 7, 1966, at The Poetry Center of the 92nd Street YM-YWHA for the Foundation for Contemporary Performance Arts. McLuhan titled his lecture “The Medium Is the Massage”, a play on his famous aphorism, “the medium is the message”. You can hear the full lecture of 1 hour, 8 minutes by following this direct link This is followed by a large selection of quotes from the lecture, starting with these first 3:-
“I have been introduced quite recently as Canada’s revenge on the United States. You know, from the land of the DEW Line, the early-warning system.”

“[But, this is one of my themes tonight, as it were,] the artist as early-warning system for new media.

“[Another main theme of course will be that] the medium is the massage and not the message—it really works us over, it really takes hold and massages the population in a savage way.


2. The Book which provides a large selection of quotes from the book “The Medium is the Massage: An Inventory of Effects” by media analyst Marshall McLuhan and graphic designer Quentin Fiore, and coordinated by Jerome Agel. It was published in March 1967 and became a bestseller with a cult following. Reversing the usual publishers’ procedure, a hardcover volume of the book was published after the paperback. More info via Wikipedia.

“The medium, or process, of our time—electric technology—is reshaping and restructuring patterns of social interdependence and every aspect of our personal life. It is forcing us to reconsider and reevaluate practically every thought, every action, and every institution formerly taken for granted.”

Direct link to this Book section:

3. The Film “This is Marshall McLuhan: The Medium is the Massage”, an experimental documentary produced by Ernest Pintoff and Guy Fraumeni, narrated by actor Edward Binnes and broadcasted on NBC TV (19 March 1967). For more information see my posting on this blog at

Here is the YouTube video of the film: 

Direct link to this Film section:


4. The Magazine 4th edition of the multimedia magazine Aspen (1967) designed by Quentin Fiore and edited by and devoted to sixties media visionary Marshall McLuhan. Voluminous documentation of “Aspen Magazine – The McLuhan Issue” its contents is available via

Some quotes from Aspen Magazine #4 on Marshall McLuhan:

“McLuhan was able to say ‘The medium is the message’ because he started from no concern with content.” — John Cage, “Diary: How to Improve the World (You Will Only Make Matters Worse)”

“A strange bond often exists among anti-social types in their power to see environments as they really are.”— Marshall McLuhan

Direct link to the Magazine section:


5. The Record (Audio) section contains the LP recording of “The Medium is the Massage” by Marshall McLuhan, released by Columbia Records in March 1967, conceived and coordinated by Jerome Agel, and produced by John Simon. Listen to Side A and Side B via

“Drop this jiggery-pokery and talk straight turkey.”— James Joyce, “Finnegans Wake”

“This last week was like a total breakdown.”— Franz Kafka, “Diaries”

There ain’t no grammatical errors in a non-literate society.— Marshall McLuhan, see also “The Gutenberg Galaxy: The Making of Typographic Man”, p. 238

Direct link to the Record section:


6. The Website section where all the quotes by Marshall McLuhan and others are listed from “The Medium is the Massage” (the lecture, the book, the film, the magazine and/or the record, single and remix).

“And the nun thanked the lad who replied: That’s all right Madame, any relative of Batman is a friend of mine!”

“The mass media are turning the globe into a village and catapulting 20th century man back to the life of the tribe.”— Marshall McLuhan


—John Cage, “Diary: How to Improve the World (You Will Only Make Matters Worse)”

Direct link to the Website section:

 The Back Cover
Link to the Homepage:

A media creature through and through, Paglia has been cavorting in the limelight of network TV and sold-out lectures ever since her 1991 book, Sexual Personae (the first of two volumes), poked the eye of both conservatives and liberals. Intrigued by Paglia’s intellectual resemblance to Marshall McLuhan – patron saint of Wired magazine – Stewart Brand, the author of The Media Lab, caught up with Paglia in the court of a San Francisco hotel. [This interview by Stewart Brand occurred in 1993.]

Camille Paglia Speaks; Stewart Brand mostly listens

Brand: Have you mapped your success against Marshall McLuhan’s? Remember how that happened? Here was a guy, like you he was on the fringe of academia, Catholic oriented, basically a literary creature. He starts holding forth in an epigrammatic way about culture and media, and suddenly AT&T and everybody else wants to talk to him. Paglia comes along, does what you’ve done…

Paglia: Influenced by McLuhan. Neil Postman, who I had the Harper’s magazine discussion with, said something that was very moving to me. He said at the end of that evening, “I was a student of Marshall McLuhan and I have never been with someone who reminded me more of McLuhan. When you were sitting with McLuhan in the middle of the night, all you would see was the tip of his cigar glowing, and you would hear him making these huge juxtapositions. Even his writing never captured the way McLuhan’s mind worked. Your mind works exactly the same, the way you bring things together and they ssssizzle when you bring them together.”

Brand: So you read McLuhan in college.

Paglia: McLuhan was assigned in my classes. Everyone had a copy of his books. There were so many things that were happening at that moment – McLuhan, Norman O. Brown, Leslie Fiedler, Allen Ginsberg. There was enormous promise of something that was going to just blast everything open in cultural criticism. What the heck happened? It wasn’t just a conservative administration in the ’70s and ’80s. That’s not it. It was a failure on the part of the ’60s generation itself. You feel it a little bit in “Blow Up,” or just like reading about Jimi Hendrix and the way the women looked, the way the groupies looked – how fabulous the groupies were. They were so sexy and so ballsy! It was amazing how those ’60s chicks talked. This was the real feminism. Even women got less powerful. We have had a general cultural collapse.

Brand: What did you make of McLuhan?

Paglia: We all thought, “This is one of the great prophets of our time.” What’s happened to him? Why are these people reading Lacan or Foucault who have no awareness at all of mass media? Why would anyone go on about the school of Saussure? In none of that French crap is there any reference to media. Our culture is a pop culture. Americans are the ones who have to be interpreting the pop culture reality.

When I was in England earlier this summer for the release of the Penguin paperback of Sexual Personae, I was having fits because of no TV there. I felt like I was in prison. Then I got to Amsterdam, and Amsterdam was better because they had everything on satellite. That was interesting in a kind of sociological way. They have German TV and Italian TV and French TV, but it is still not equivalent to what we have. What we have is total domination by the pop culture matrix, by the mass media matrix. That’s the future of the world.

Brand: Is pop culture and mass media the same thing?

Paglia: For me, yes. I teach a course called “Mass Media.” I think that it should be required for every liberal arts graduate – the whole history of mass media, traced from the 1830s newspapers all the way to today.

The whole interview, published in Wired, is worth reading and can be found here:

Stewart Brand

Dear All,
We are happy to team up with the Harold Innis Foundation at Innis College. On the evening of November 7, award-winning journalist and political commentator Andrew Coyne will deliver the 2017 Harold Innis Lecture: Crisis in the Media: Causes, Consequences and Cures. Coyne is a national affairs columnist for Postmedia News and a Fellow at University of Toronto’s School of Public Policy & Governance.

Join us for the 2017 Harold Innis Lecture! Further details and registration below. Looking forward to seeing you there.

Cheers! Paolo Granata

Crisis In The Media: Causes, Consequences &  Cures

On the evening of Tuesday, November 7, political commentator and journalist Andrew Coyne will deliver the 2017 Harold Innis Lecture, entitled “Crisis in the Media: Causes, Consequences and Cures.”

Andrew Coyne is a national affairs columnist for Postmedia News and a Fellow at University of Toronto’s School of Public Policy & Governance. Since graduating from U of T (BA 1983 Trinity College) and the London School of Economics, Coyne has led an expansive, award-winning career in journalism. He has contributed to such publications as Maclean’s, The Globe and MailThe New York TimesThe Wall Street JournalNational Review, and The Walrus.

  • November 7, 2017
    • 7:00 pm – Lecture
    • 8:00 pm – Q&A moderated by Innis College alumnus, Toronto Star journalist, and former managing editor for The VarsityJaren Kerr
    • 8:30 pm – Reception
  • Innis Town Hall | 2 Sussex Ave., Toronto
  • This is a FREE event, but online registration is required. | 

    Register for this free event at:

  • For more information contact the Innis Alumni Office at

This event is part of an annual lecture series, hosted by the Harold Innis Foundation, featuring acclaimed thinkers, whose discourse echoes that of Harold Adams Innis himself. Innis was one of Canada’s original thinkers, a professor of political economy at the University Toronto, and author of seminal works on economic history, media, and communications theory. His work contributed to the foundation of what is known as the Toronto School of communications theory, and in his writings he explored the role of the media in shaping culture and society.

 Harold Innis (1894 – 1952)

Library & Archives Canada in Ottawa, Ontario

By Gary Price, November 1, 2017

It is with great enthusiasm that Library and Archives Canada (LAC), the University of Toronto Libraries (UTL), and the Canadian Commission for UNESCO (CCUNESCO) today welcomed news that the documentary heritage of Marshall McLuhan has been accepted for inclusion in the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)’s prestigious Memory of the World Register.

The nomination for the inclusion of Marshall McLuhan’s legacy into the Memory of the World Register was made jointly by LAC and UTL with the support of CCUNESCO. The documentary heritage that will become part of the Memory of the World is comprised of his archival collection preserved at LAC and his research library held at UTL. Dating from the time of McLuhan’s undergraduate studies to his death, the documents include a wealth of correspondence and manuscripts of writings: books, articles, essays, and lectures.

Marshall McLuhan’s marginalia in his copy of Finnegans Wake, Fisher Library (click on image for expanded view)

Quick Facts

  • The Marshall McLuhan archival collection is preserved by LAC, and his research library is held at UTL’s Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library. The two collections are interlinked.
  • Marshall McLuhan’s personal archive and library comprise approximately 50 metres of archival documents in multiple media and 6,000 published items (mainly books), many heavily annotated in his hand.
  • In over half a century after their publication, Marshall McLuhan’s books have sold over one million copies and have been translated into at least 17 languages.


Gary Price is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area.

The Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library is a library in the University of Toronto, constituting the largest repository of publicly accessible rare books and manuscripts in Canada. (Wikipedia)

Most readers who are interested in Marshall McLuhan own a copy of his most important book Understanding Media (1964) in one of its several editions, either in hardcover or paperback. So they probably feel that they don’t need another edition. However, I recommend the Critical Edition, edited by Terry Gordon, for its additional features which are worth the price of the book by themselves. Besides the full text of Understanding Media, these include:-

  • McLuhan’s Introductions to both the First and Second editions the book;
  •  An Essay on the Ryerson Experiment (1960) the purpose of which was “to provide the ‘same’ information in the identical wording, to four similar audiences, each of which had the ‘same’ motivation to seek out and remember the information presented. Given the same objective examination on that information, would the only systematic remaining, namely the different media used, make a statistically significant difference to the average scores of those audiences?” The four different mediums used were: television, radio, live lecture, printed text;
  • A short essay on how McLuhan’s Report on Project in Understanding New Media (1960) was transformed into  Understanding Media (1964);
  • An essay on the Critical Reception of Understanding Media by Terrence Gordon;
  • Plus introductions to all the sections, a Glossary, List of McLuhan publications and Indices.

Gingko Press’s Listing:

Understanding Media
The Extensions of Man (Critical Edition)
Edited by W. Terrence Gordon
When first published, Marshall McLuhan’s Understanding Media made history with its radical view of the effects of electronic communications upon man and life in the twentieth century. This edition of McLuhan’s best-known book both enhances its accessibility to a general audience and provides the full critical apparatus necessary for scholars. In Terrence Gordon’s own words, “McLuhan is in full flight already in the introduction, challenging us to plunge with him into what he calls ‘the creative process of knowing.” Much to the chagrin of his contemporary critics, McLuhan’s preference was for a prose style that explored rather than explained. Probes, or aphorisms, were an indispensable tool with which he sought to prompt and prod the reader into an “understanding of how media operate” and to provoke reflection.In the 1960s McLuhan’s theories aroused both wrath and admiration. It is intriguing to speculate what he might have to say 40 years later on subjects to which he devoted whole chapters such as Television, The Telephone, Weapons, Housing and Money. Today few would dispute that mass media have indeed decentralized modern living and turned the world into a global village.

This critical edition features an appendix that makes available for the first time the core of the research project that spawned the book and 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.

Reaction to the first edition was as highly charged as the book itself:

“Marshall McLuhan is now a power in more than one land.” — The New Statesman 
“Infuriating, brilliant and incoherent.” — Commonwealth Review 
“His critics are infuriated by his ideas … but some think he foretells our real future.”
— Richard Schickel, Harper’s  
“The medium is not the message …” — Umberto Eco  
“What if he is right?” — Tom Wolfe  
640 pages, Hardcover, 5 1/4” x 7 1/2” (133 x 191 mm),
English    –    ISBN: 978-1-58423-073-1     $ 24.95
About the Editor:
W. Terrence Gordon was born in Montreal in 1942. He studied at the University of Toronto, where he received his undergraduate and graduate degrees. He is the author of 17 published books and over 130 articles in the fields of linguistics, pedagogy, rhetoric, semiotics, and intellectual history.
Since 1972, Gordon has been on the faculty of Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, teaching courses in linguistics, translation, the role of radio in World War II, and, of course, the work of Marshall McLuhan.
Author of the highly successful McLuhan for Beginners, W. Terrence Gordon has edited a critical edition of Marshall McLuhan’s Understanding Media and McLuhan’s doctoral thesis, The Classical Trivium.

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Sample Text From The Ryerson Media Experiment

The Ryerson Media Experiment in the maximized testing of the media was made possible by the following people:

  1. Roy Low, Department of Physics
    Carl Williams, Department of Psychology
    Isabel Macbeth, School of Radio & Television –
    James Peters, Department of English
    Gerald Kane, Depart of Radio
    William Sokira, Department of Radio
    Geofrey Jamieson, Department of Television

Mass Media and Learning – an Experiment


A seminar on culture and communication has frequent cause to concern itself with the mass media.  The experiment here reported was the culmination of our first year effort.  While in a very real sense an interdisciplinary product, the responsibility for the design, analysis and presentation of results fell to the psychologists in the seminar as being most familiar with the techniques involved.

Most research on mass media is concerned with either of two objectives:  studies of the influence of one medium on attitude changes, and consumer research designed ultimately to help sell soap or whatnot.  Little if any work has been done on the degree to which various media facilitate or impede learning, if indeed they have any influence at all.  The question does not occur readily because the mass media themselves are seldom seen as educational devices.  The silent assumption that mass media exist primarily for entertainment and propaganda, which underlies most such research, automatically excludes research with an educational bias.


In its most general form, the problem investigated can be stated thus:  Is learning affected by the channel over which information comes?  If so, how and to what extent?  While we usually assume that television, for instance, is more compelling than radio in securing our attention, we also assume that we can easily compensate psychologically for this differential advantage.  Whenever our attention is really aroused, we can and do attend to the radio address, news or weather report with the firm conviction that we will end up with all the information we require.  An extra effort of attention, we assume, will easily make up for the fact that we could have gleaned the same information with less effort over television.

With these considerations in mind, the experiment was designed to provide the “same” information in the identical wording, to four similar audiences, each of which had the “same” motivation to seek out and remember the information presented.  Given the same objective examination on that information, would the only systematic difference remaining, namely the different media used, make a statistically significant difference to the average scores of those audiences?  Television and radio were obvious choices for an experiment on mass communication.  Since they are often contrasted with “real” situations, a “live” lecture audience was added.  The fourth medium chosen was the printed page since it is widely regarded as the essential carrier of Culture – with a capital C – and is most often thought of as being threatened by the newer media in terms of its continued existence…

Note: The full text of Report on Project in Understanding New Media (1960) can be downloaded from this blog here:

Harley Parker, Ted Carpenter, Marshall McLuhan, John Culkin, SJ (Click on image for enlarged view)

McLuhan in New York, sponsored by Fordham University and St. Michael’s College, University of Toronto at Fordham University, 13 October 2017

From Fall 1967 to Spring 1968, Canadian media theorist Marshall McLuhan spent one academic year in New York City as the Albert Schweitzer Chair of the Humanities at Fordham University, invited by John Culkin S.J., Chair of the Department of Communications at Fordham. McLuhan in New York took the city by storm. The vibrant New York intellectual and artistic vortex provided the right kind of environment to germinate McLuhan’s provocative and unconventional ideas, to capture the city’s imagination. McLuhan’s impact at Fordham was also instrumental in drawing worldwide attention to the idea that technological engagement plays a fundamental role in the structuring of human perception.

On Friday, October 13th, 2017, Fordham University at its at Lincoln Center campus in Manhattan hosted a public event with Eric McLuhan, Paul Levinson, and John Carey, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of McLuhan’s intellectual presence in New York City. The initiative’s goal was not only to pay homage to McLuhan and his intellectual legacy, but also to probe how McLuhan’s work is still pertinent to the general understanding of our media environment today.

The “McLuhan in New York” event is presented by the Department of Communication and Media Studies at Fordham University in New York and the Book & Media Studies Program at the St. Michael’s College in the University of Toronto, in conjunction with the Estate of Marshall McLuhan.


Eric McLuhan, Independent scholar: The Lost Tetrads

Paul Levinson, Fordham University: The Omnipotent Ear

John Carey, Fordham University: The Responsive Chord, 2017 (Foward to)

Welcoming words:                                                                                                            Jacqueline Reich, Fordham University                                                                                Paolo Granata, University of Toronto

Video by Hopeton Campbell; Thanks, Claudia Rivera and Chris Vicari

Note: The audio problems have been corrected between 1hr 19 min 37 and 1hr 23 min 18 sec on this version of the video.