This is addressed to the Marshall McLuhan community of interest and supporters of the McLuhan legacy in the Greater Toronto region, in Canada and beyond. The situation that concerns us is at York University in their English Department and is described by B.W. Powe in the paragraph below his photograph.

 B.W. Powe

B.W. Powe–poet, writer, scholar, essayist–has been teaching his course at York University on Marshall McLuhan and Northrop Frye for several years now. It is about to be cancelled very early in the enrollment season, which traditionally goes on until late August. Enrollment has been down at York since the long strike. The English Department has been deeply affected. Nevertheless, this course has been popular, and in fact usually enrolls to its limit. It is the only course of its kind in North American Universities and Colleges. It is the only course at York that focuses entirely on Marshall McLuhan for a semester. Its elimination could be a setback for McLuhan studies in Toronto. BW was in the process of building bridges with his colleague Paolo Granata at the University of Toronto, setting up joint events so that York and the U of T could develop a McLuhan synchronicity between the universities. This is now at risk of being lost. Any help in communicating our collective dismay with York’s intentions would be helpful and deeply welcomed.

**********

I am sending my own email letter of support for BW and dismay at this overhasty action for BW, not just because his course has been canceled too early since such decisions are usually made in late August for the Fall and Winter semesters and there is ample time for additional enrollments, but because this usually over-subscribed  course has as of a few days ago been dropped from the English Department’s curriculum entirely with no prior notice or consultation with Professor Powe. This is wholly unwarranted.

I am calling on supporters of the Marshall McLuhan legacy, which is not just important to Toronto and Canada, but the whole world, to send email letters of support for BW Powe and his McLuhan-Frye course with a request that it be reinstated for this Fall/Winter semesters and returned to the English Department’s curriculum for future students.

I will not publish the email addresses of the York University administrator’s here, so if you are interested and wish to add your support for this cause, please send me a note by Messenger if you are on Facebook or by email to AlexanderKuskis at gmail dot com. Thank you………………Alex Kuskis

For your information here is Wikipedia’s bio on BW Powe: https://goo.gl/WjYhYV

ADDENDUM July 16, 2018: A York University student’s petition was started by a former student of BW’s by the name of Kathy Tsukalis. York University students can go to this site to read and sign it: https://goo.gl/k26VU1


This is a non-scholarly journalistic look back at Marshall McLuhan’s The Gutenberg Galaxy: The Making of Typographic Man. It is mostly an appreciation but it also includes some cutting comments about McLuhan’s “obscure” writing style and criticism of McLuhan’s “matrix” structure for the book. He should have read the page that is untitled and unpaginated that precedes page one of the Prologue to The Gutenberg Galaxy (1962); there he wrote of his “mosaic or field approach,” stating that it represents “the galaxy or constellation of events” in a “mosaic of perpetually interacting forms that have undergone kaleidoscopic transformation—particularly in our own time.”  He chose a matrix structure as opposed to a traditional linear approach because he thought it reflected the post-literate “allatonceness” world of electronic media and technology. 

Living in Marshall McLuhan’s Galaxy

One can find fault with his showy, wilfully obscure style, but the world he predicted 50 years ago is the one we live in.

True, you have to get past the fact that it’s a hastily written, over-padded undergraduate term paper. It consists of little more than a series of lengthy, brain-cramping quotations about the alphabet and typography, and scatterings of slick bite-sized ad copy, unborn ideas and incomprehensible references. A cast of brilliant writers including Cervantes, James Joyce, Edgar Allan Poe, Plato, and Shakespeare walk across the book’s stage in roles that, while entertaining if you’re into literature, are more perplexing than illuminative.

But to dismiss it as frustrating gibberish, tempting though this may be, would be foolish. McLuhan, the crafty gadfly, knew exactly what he was doing. For the serious, patient reader, this book reveals, over time, powerful insights into the impact of communications technology on human existence.

In communicating his message, McLuhan eschews clear, linear writing for the “grotesque,” an approach that, in principle, expresses truths by throwing together collections of symbols, leaving it up to the “beholder” to make the connections; truths that would otherwise take much longer to express verbally; a kind of “witty jazz” with no point of view, no linear connection and no sequential order, where the reader participates as co-author.

This may explain why the book starts by leaping immediately to its conclusion, as McLuhan invokes William Blake to explain his delivery:

The Reasoning Spectre Stands between the Vegetative Man & his Immortal Imagination.

By beginning at the end, and throwing all sorts of ideas around in a “mosaic pattern of perception and observation” McLuhan is drawing attention to the fact that print is biased in favour of organised, logical, segmented thinking … when really there’s a whole lot more going on. Reason, he seeks to show, offers only incomplete understanding of the world.

The book’s main topic has to do with the senses we use to make sense of the world. When this orientation changes, men change. And they change when any one sense, or bodily or mental function, is externalised by technology. Imagination is the balance that exists when there is unity of experience, an entire, natural interplay among the senses; when no senses are “outered”. When outered, each sense becomes a closed system, and in “beholding this new thing, man is compelled to become it”.

Plato is quoted as saying that the onset of literacy diminished ontological awareness, thereby impoverishing experience. The stated purpose of The Gutenberg Galaxy is to discover how far the restrictive visual bias was pushed by introduction of the alphabet, then manuscripts, then typography. The message of the book is not that print, or any other communications technology, is good or bad, but rather that to be unconscious of its effect is disastrous. Print-biased man, for example, is unwittingly subjected to “its remorseless power of homogenisation” and is therefore in jeopardy of losing the capacity to imagine freely and independently.

Standing on mentor Harold Innis‘s shoulders, McLuhan suggests that revolution takes place as personal and social life adjusts to new models of perception produced by new technologies. From the alphabet on, he says, there has been a continuous drive in the west toward a separation of the senses which has had a profound impact on our emotional and political existence.

Non-literate modes, says McLuhan, are implicit, simultaneous and discontinuous (much like his text). They existed in the primitive past, and as he predicted, seem to be shaping the future. (Source: https://goo.gl/2NeufV)

Marshall McLuhan, Canadian philosopher, holding a book as he leans over a chair. Photograph, 1966.


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

Deadline for submission: December 1, 2018

The Media Ecology Association invites paper and panel proposals for presentation at its 20th Annual Convention, taking place on 27-30 June 2019 in Toronto.

We welcome submissions that encompass the broad array of disciplines focusing on the study of media as environments, technology and techniques, modes of information, and symbolic codes of communication that constitute media ecology.

We also invite submissions exploring this year’s theme “Media Ethics. Human Ecology in a Connected World”.

In our current hyper-connected era, information and communication technologies are increasingly forming the infrastructure of a new digital human ecosystem which is larger and quicker to evolve than any prior.
This continually transforming and evolving planetary habitat connects all of humanity into, what Marshall McLuhan’s prescient mind termed, a “Global Village”.

Technology and new media’s impact on this ecosystem has a profound effect on every aspect of the human ethos – self-expression, education, values, beliefs, needs, livelihood, enjoyment – and society at large.
Over the past few years, these emerging technologies and unforeseen digital media practices have also given rise to ethical issues, political and societal questions of critical importance to our evolving future.

The countless unintended implications – current or potential – of today’s rapid technological developments have largely come from socio-technical systems and emerging digital, robotic, artificially intelligent, or biomedical technologies. These advances have led to an unprecedented need for new ethical perspectives and frameworks to underpin the building blocks of our new digital ecosystem.

General areas of interest related to this year’s theme include, but are not limited to, the following topics:

  • Artificial intelligence and machine learning
  • Internet of things
  • Robotics and automation
  • Bioengineering
  • Virtual/augmented reality
  • Data ethics, privacy, surveillance, cybersecurity, and data protection
  • Big data and cloud computing
  • Social media algorithms
  • Internet policy
  • Misinformation on social media
  • Propaganda, censorship, and free speech
  • Net Neutrality, openness, and digital inclusion
  • Media integrity in journalism, advertising, public relations
  • Digital citizenship, social and political engagement
  • Entertainment media, digital and media arts
  • Digital literacy and media pedagogy
  • Civil discourse, human dignity, diversity, and individual expression in the media ecosystem
  • Wellbeing sustainability and prosperity in the media environment
  • Innovative interpretations and new ethical perspectives emanating from the Media Ecology intellectual tradition
Download the full 2-page extended CFP which includes Guidelines for Submission, Panel Presentation Submissions, Venues & Special Events, Important Dates & other essential information from:
Portion of a bas-relief plaque in front of the Kelly Library at St Mike’s that includes the images of James Joyce, Marshall McLuhan & other faculty such as Étienne Gilson who taught at St. Mike’s

What do Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, media theorist Marshall McLuhan and Canadian popular culture have in common? This is the question that Mark A. McCutcheon seeks to answer in his new book, The Medium Is the Monster: Canadian Adaptations of Frankenstein and the Discourse of Technology, published in 2018 by Athabasca University Press. In this unique and penetrating analysis, McCutcheon argues that Shelley’s 1818 novel essentially reinvented the word “technology” for the modern age, establishing its connections with ominous notions of man-made monstrosity. In the twentieth century, this monstrous, Frankensteinian conception of technology was globalized and popularized largely through Marshall McLuhan’s media theory and its numerous, diverse adaptations in Canadian popular culture. The Medium is the Monster establishes Frankenstein, and its various adaptations, as the originating intertext for a modern conceptualisation of technology that has manifested with a unique potency in Canadian pop culture, informing works as disparate as David Cronenberg’s Videodrome, William Gibson’s Neuromancer, the fiction of Margaret Atwood, and even electronic dance music. Furthermore, McCutcheon undertakes an incisive of analysis of how Frankensteinian constructions of technology have shaped real-world discussions of science and industry, an intertextual discourse which he sees as most powerfully encapsulated in the rhetoric associated with the Alberta tar sands industry.

Over the course of the interview, McCutcheon provides some fascinating insights into changing cultural attitudes towards technology, the influence of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, the novel’s relationship to McLuhan’s media theory, and the surprising scope of Shelley’s cultural impact. (Source: https://goo.gl/w5hWBp)

About the Author

Mark A. McCutcheon is professor of literary studies at Athabasca University. His scholarly publications include articles on such subjects as Canadian popular culture, Frankenstein adaptations, and copyright policy in English Studies in CanadaDigital Studies/Le champ numériqueContinuum, and Popular Music, among other scholarly journals and books. Mark has also published poetry and short fiction in literary magazines like EVENTExistereCarousel, and subTerrain. Originally from Toronto, Mark lives in Edmonton. His scholarly blog is www.academicalism.wordpress.com.

 First Ed. 1818

From Mark McCutcheon’s Review of the Study

The year 2018 marks the 200th anniversary of the first edition of Mary Shelley’s gothic horror novel, Frankenstein. In the two centuries since its appearance, the book has taken on the mantle of a cultural touchstone, having been adapted, referenced, recapitulated, and retold in an apparently endless succession of books, movies, graphic novels, and other media. Itself loosely based on the Prometheus and Pygmalion myths, Shelley’s novel has become one of the most influential books in the western canon.

It is also a volume capacious enough to encompass a dizzying array of interpretive approaches. The text has been seen variously as a warning about humanity’s hubris in attempting to play God, a cautionary tale about the limits of scientific knowledge, and an early meditation on the nature of technology and industrialization. Literary critic Wendy Steiner writes that Shelley “was clearly horrified by the cold, overreaching adventurism of science, industrialism, colonization. Even art was not immune from dehumanization. … Frankenstein’s monster is a symbol of art as inhumane manufacture.”

Athabasca University professor of literary studies Mark A. McCutcheon extends this investigation – not altogether convincingly – in his new volume, which posits a kind of Venn diagram of influence among Shelley’s novel, the writing of media critic Marshall McLuhan, and Canadian pop culture, most especially in the realm of science fiction movies and literature………..

But his investigation of McLuhan’s influence on postmodernism and our current technology-besotted society is vigorous and provocative. It is also interesting to note the similarities between McLuhan and a current Canadian academic currently making waves in the popular culture. McCutcheon cites W. Terrence Gordon, who suggested that McLuhan was interrogating “the feminization of the North American male” in The Mechanical Bride: Folklore of Industrial Man. When McCutcheon later refers to McLuhan’s “cult of personality as a maverick academic” and his status as a “theoretical guru,” it’s almost impossible not to make a comparison with Jordan Peterson. (Read the entire review at https://goo.gl/GPxcFi)


Eric McLuhan at the18th Annual Convention, St. Mary’s College of California, Moraga, CA June 22–25, 2017

On Eric McLuhan’s ‘Media Ecology in the 21st Century’

By Andrew McLuhan

[Eric McLuhan’s last speech, ‘Media Ecology in the 21st Century,’ was delivered at El Nogal in Bogotá, Colombia, on May 17th, 2018. He died, suddenly, the following afternoon. The following remarks were written to introduce that speech when it’s published along with the speeches which Lance Strate and Sergio Roncallo-Dow gave that evening.]

ME21 — Introduction

Asked to travel to Bogotá, Colombia, to give an opening address at the Universidad de la Sabana’s launch of their doctorate program in communication, Eric McLuhan used the opportunity to make some comments regarding what he felt needed immediate (and overdue) attention in the area of media ecology, and to offer some advice to people wading into that field of study. He felt that those just starting out, especially as they are in Colombia, removed from what now constitutes a tradition in North America, have a great opportunity to make a fresh start; to avoid some of the pitfalls and mistakes; to begin again.

Eric McLuhan was there when the idea of media ecology was born. Indeed, he maintained that he came up with the term while in New York City in 1967–68 helping his father Marshall McLuhan as he taught at Fordham, and that Neil Postman “ran with it.”

In the McLuhan school of media ecology, it is not simply an area of study, but an area of action, and this is what Eric wanted to get across in his speech. We have to be more than observers, we have to be agents of change. It’s been more than 50 years. Enough talk, time to act.

This activist stance, taken seriously — as it is meant to be taken — is not popular. It’s radical. It requires great changes in various cultures’ attitudes and habits, and it means a significant reduction of profits for technology companies and their shareholders. That is some of what we’re up against.

In a letter dated May 6, 1969, Marshall McLuhan wrote to Jacques Maritain:

“There is a deep-seated repugnance in the human breast against understanding the processes in which we are involved. Such understanding involves far too much responsibility for our actions. … Since we are doing these things to ourselves, there is no earthly reason for submitting to them unconsciously or irrationally.”[1]

My father was becoming bold in his statements. A devout and life-long Catholic, he was more willing to speak in public about his faith, especially as it related to his work. He had, in the last year or two since the publication of The Sensus Communis, Synesthesia and the Soul (BPS Books, 2015) spoken publicly a few times about his ideas for a ‘Catholic theory of communication,’ particularly when we traveled to Saskatoon where he gave the Keenan lecture at St. Thomas More College, University of Saskatoon, in November 2017.[2]

I had been traveling with my father for the last ten years or so. Because of his at-times fragile health, he needed someone with him who could assist in an emergency. It was during these trips that I began to get interested in ‘the family business,’ as it were. Hearing him talk, and in our own conversations during travel, I began to get an understanding of what it was all about. Understanding is addictive. My interest was cemented when I spent almost two years documenting and inventorying Marshall McLuhan’s personal library prior to its relocation to the Fisher Rare Book Library at the University of Toronto.[3]

Because of Eric’s advancing age and increasing difficulty with travel — he was 76 years old, and I had started to wheel him through airports in a wheelchair because he couldn’t walk very long distances — we had decided he would retire from traveling to speak in 2018. We had already committed to two engagements this year, Colombia and Germany[4], and decided to keep them.

In the tragedy and shock of my father’s death On Friday, May 18th while we were in Colombia, there was a surprising amount of beauty.

As Marshall tended to teach at Catholic institutions, so my father seemed to get invited to speak at Catholic institutions. Our last three trips were to St. Mary’s College in California (Keynote address to the Media Ecology Association’s annual conference), St. Thomas More College in Saskatoon (The 29th Michael Keenan Memorial Lecture), and La Universidad de la Sabana in Chia just outside of Bogotá, Colombia.

Eric took the opportunity to pray in the university’s two chapels and had been remarking on an abundance of roses, a sign he related to St. Theresa de Lisieux, who he had a particular fondness for.

It is a comfort to his family that Eric died while in the bosom of his faith; practising it with his characteristic devotion, feeling its real presence around him.

It is fitting that his last public address would be about looking forward to media ecology in the 21st century, entreating us to be bold, have courage, blaze new trails.

He went out with style and grace.

I will miss his presence, his wit, his obsession with all forms of puns, his humour. I will miss his instruction, his patience in answering my every question with their often-obvious answers. The world is poorer for the loss of his knowledge and skill. I will wish I paid closer attention. I will have to be content with what I was able to learn, and trust that it prepared me to go forward. I will treasure it all as well, and I am glad he left behind much on the record, for us all.

‘Media Ecology in the 21st Century’ is more than a wonderful speech; it is a map, a way forward.

The short and emotionally charged conclusion to the speech was written by hand while Eric waited to go on stage. He urges us to be bold, dares us to be radical, fortifies us with courage.

Let’s go — there’s little time to waste.

Andrew McLuhan
Picton
June 2, 2018.

[1] The Medium and the Light: Reflections on Religion, edited by Eric McLuhan and Jacek Szklarek (Stoddart, 1999).

[2] Eric McLuhan’s lecture ‘Catholicism and Communication: The Sensus Communis, Synesthesia and the Soul’ was recorded and is available on The McLuhan Institute’s YouTube channel.

[3] Marshall McLuhan’s library has recently been added to UNESCO’s Memory of the World registry.

[4] Our last trip together was to be in Germany this November (2018) at the Munster School of Design. A conference loosely organized around the 30th anniversary of the publication of Laws of Media: The New Science.

Source: https://goo.gl/KhM12E

Marshall McLuhan & Young Eric McLuhan

transmediale Marshall McLuhan LectureFaisal Devji (left) in conversation with Megan Boler (right) at the 2018 Marshall McLuhan Lecture in Berlin

transmediale Marshall McLuhan Lecture by Megan Boler

30.01.2018, 18:30 at the Embassy of Canada, Berlin

The 10th-anniversary edition of the transmediale Marshall McLuhan lecture was delivered by Megan Boler, a professor in the Department of Social Justice Education at the University of Ontario. As a highly interdisciplinary scholar, Boler has focused on the social implications of technology, including the relations between media, democracy, and education. In her McLuhan lecture, Truth as Event: The Affective Politics of Belief, she talked about her latest research into how we entered the so-called “post-truth” era, in which “emotions matter more than facts in determining belief.” Boler asked how we arrived here and considered how media and spectatorship—particularly on social media—factor into constituting and producing the emotions that underlie belief and, in turn, constitute “truth.” What is the role of the artist, intellectual, and activist in this challenging political era? The talk provided an overview of the affective politics shaping our contemporary experience and concludes with the question as to how art and satire may function as public pedagogies to provide reality checks on the surreality of our times. The lecture was followed by a conversation with Faisal Devji, a historian whose work has dealt with ethics and violence in a globalized world.

The Marshall McLuhan Salon Exhibition Explorations in Anonymous History by Canadian artist David Clark was be opened after the lecture, at 20:00. (Source: https://goo.gl/9eeDxc)

transmediale logo

The photos above show Marshall McLuhan in his office at St. Michael’s College (1964), taken from the CBC documentary “McLuhan is the Message” (see video below).

Visitors wishing to view Marshall McLuhan’s Office are invited to attend this weekend, March 26 & 27 at the following times:

May 26 and 27, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. 
St. Michael’s College in the University of Toronto
The 19th annual Doors Open Toronto presented by Great Gulf provides an opportunity to see inside more than 130 of the most architecturally, historically, culturally and socially significant buildings across the city. This year’s theme, “Film: The Great Romance” explores the city’s film and television industry.
For the first time since decades, Marshall McLuhan’s original, restored office at St. Michael’s College will be open to public (free admission).
St. Michael’s College featured sites for the weekend include also St. Basil’s Church, the Shook Common Room, the Kelly Library and the PIMS Library, one of the most substantial centres of medieval scholarship in North America.
On both Saturday and Sunday at 1:00 p.m., Professor Paolo Granata will present a lecture to the public titled A Playful Mind: Exploring the Genius of Marshall McLuhan.” The lecture will take a place in Fr. Madden Hall, Carr Hall, located at 100 St. Joseph Street. Throughout the Doors Open weekend, there will be food, refreshments and St. Michael’s clothing available for purchase.
Background information:
In the spring of 1946, Marshall McLuhan received an offer to teach at St. Michael’s College in the University of Toronto. From that time on, he would spend the rest of his life living and teaching in Toronto. McLuhan’s office was located in a Victorian House on the St. Michael’s campus, with unvarnished wooden floors that creaked and a door leading to the street on which McLuhan, ever sensitive to noise, hung a sign that read “slam gently”. According to his biographer Philip Marchand, McLuhan claimed this oxymoron communicated its message very effectively.
Into this office, McLuhan piled his six or seven thousand books and a shabby chaise longue with a thin green mattress for his five or six daily naps. On the walls, he placed a crucifix, oddities such as a death mask of Keats, and his personal talisman, the oar he won from rowing at Cambridge University.


Dr. Eric McLuhan, Portrait by Michael McLuhan

Eric McLuhan (1942 – 2018) passed away suddenly on Thursday, May 17, after losing consciousness in his hotel room in Bogota, Columbia after an academic visit to the Universidad de la Sabana in Chía, 7 km north of Bogota. He had been invited to deliver the inaugural lecture for the Doctorate in Communication program at the university. Titled “Media Ecology in the 21st Century”, it was very well-received. He was a scholar and a religious humanist, continuing his scholarship, research and writing until the end.

His son Andrew who accompanied him tried but was unable to resuscitate him. Andrew announced today on his McLuhan Institute Facebook page that there would be a funeral for Eric McLuhan at 11:00 A.M. in Our Lady of Torcoroma in Bogotá, Colombia today. It is anticipated that the McLuhan family will hold a commemoration ceremony and celebration of Eric McLuhan’s life back in Canada.

Eric McLuhan’s passing is a deeply felt loss to the overlapping Marshall McLuhan community of interest and the Media Ecology Association to which he contributed. There is no question that he did more than anyone else to complete and extend his father’s work and legacy with a prodigious output of unfinished books begun by his father that Eric completed, original books on media and culture and edited volumes. These include:

  • City as Classroom (with Marshall McLuhan, Kathryn Hutchon), 1977
  • Laws of Media: The New Science (with Marshall McLuhan), U of Toronto Press, 1988
  • The Role of Thunder in Finnegans Wake, U of Toronto Press, 1997
  • Electric Language: Understanding the Present, Stoddart, 1998
  • The Human Equation, Book I: The Constant in Human Development and Culture from Pre-Literacy to Post-Literacy (with W. D. Constantineau), BPS Books, 2010
  • Media and Formal Cause (with Marshall McLuhan), NeoPoeisis Press, 2011
  • Theories of Communication (with Marshall McLuhan), Peter Lang, 2011
  • The Human Equation, Book II: The Science of Investigation (with W. D. Constantineau), BPS Books, 2011
  • The Human Equation, Book III: Know Thyself: Action and Perception (with W. D. Constantineau), BPS Books, 2012
  • The Human Equation, Book IV: Mime and Media I (with W. D. Constantineau), BPS Books, 2016 [Forthcoming]
  • The Human Equation, Book V: Mime and Media II (with W. D. Constantineau), BPS Books, 2016 [Forthcoming]
  • Cynic Satire, Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2015
  • The Sensus Communis: Synesthesia, and the Soul, BPS Books, 2015
  • The Lost Tetrads of Marshall McLuhan (with Marshall McLuhan), OR Books, 2017

Edited Books

  • Essential McLuhan (with F. Zingrone), Stoddart, 1995
  • Who Was Marshall McLuhan? (with F. Zingrone, W. Constantineau), Stoddart, 1996
  • The Medium and the Light: Writings on Religion by Marshall McLuhan, (With Jacek Schlarek) Stoddart, 1998
  • The Book of Probes (with W. Kuhns), Gingko Press, 2004
  • McLuhan Unbound, Gingko Press, 2005

A Short Biography of Eric McLuhan from his Personal Website

Dr. Eric McLuhan B.Sc., M.A., Ph.D.

  • B.Sc. – Communications, Wisconsin State University, 1972
  • M.A., Ph.D. – English Lit., University of Dallas, 1980, 1982

An internationally-known and award-winning lecturer on communication and media, Dr. McLuhan has over 40 years’ teaching experience in subjects ranging from high-speed reading techniques to literature, communication theory, media, culture, and Egyptology. He has taught at many colleges and universities throughout the United States, Canada and abroad.

In addition to co-authoring “Laws of Media” in 1988 and working closely for many years with his father, the late Marshall McLuhan, he has also been deeply involved in exploring media ecology and communications.

In 1980, with Roger Davies, Dr. McLuhan developed the Thinking and Writing workshops, and together they founded McLuhan & Davies Communications, Inc., to help business professionals with their writing and editing skills.

His research and thinking have been published in books, magazines, and journals covering topics such as media, communications, perception, and literature since 1964. He is currently researching the nature and structure of renaissances, including the one that now envelops us: the first global renaissance.

His most recent published work includes The Sensus Communis – Synesthesia, and the Soul(BPS Books, 2015)Cynic Satire (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2015), and a third book in The Human Equation series (BPS Books, 2012). Several other books are currently in preparation. (Source: http://ericmcluhan.com/).

Dr. Eric McLuhan receiving an Honorary Doctorate in Sacred Letters from St. Michael’s College in the University of Toronto

Click on the image for an expanded view.

Designed by Paolo Granata, University of Toronto

Studying book history and print culture often requires a specialized terminology. Designed to honour the legacy of the German inventor Johannes Gutenberg, this 52-card deck is a guide to key terms, including illustrations and examples, used in printing history, bibliography, and textual scholarship. It’s also a deck of cards to play with – enjoy being the most bibliophilic poker player at the table! 

The Gutenberg Deck was designed by Professor Paolo Granata for the Elements of Material Bibliography and Print Culture course at St Michael’s College in the University of Toronto, and for his students of the Book and Media Studies program. BMS program is an interdisciplinary and historical investigation of the role of printing, books, reading, and electronic and digital media in cultures past and present.

In supporting this program, St. Michael’s College in the University of Toronto aims to retrieve the intellectual legacy of Marshall McLuhan who, from the heart of its campus, inspired young minds and engaged the public in probing the never-ending processes of the Gutenberg Galaxy.
The Gutenberg Deck will be available for sale in June 2018, that is, next month at the University of Toronto Bookstore (online and on site). See https://uoftbookstore.com/

Comment: The ever creative and scholarly Paolo Granata has followed up his The Medium board game, which also employs cards, with this new card deck which is an instructional medium for courses in bibliography, book publishing, or Gutenberg (print) culture. A deck of cards is a modest communication medium, but a medium nevertheless, most often used for entertainment, as in playing cards for bridge, poker or other card games. But they also have a use as personal instructional media for memorizing content such as dates, names and definitions or as flash cards for classroom drills. Paolo’s Gutenberg cards are both instructional and can be used as playing cards.

Paolo Granata designed this deck of playing cards to help students remember unique terms from Gutenberg (print) culture such as – recto, verso, plate, folio, quarto, etc – and the history of books and their publishing. Inspired by both flash cards and Marshall McLuhan’s Distant Early Warning (DEW) Line Card Deck (see https://goo.gl/pwrb2P), designed to stimulate problem-solving and thinking, in a manner that later came to be known as ‘thinking-outside-the-box’. The cards feature a picture of Johannes Gutenberg, the inventor of mechanical movable type, one side (recto) and a definition on the reverse (verso).

“Marginalia” appears on the 10 of diamonds, for example, and “codex” on the queen of spades. Gutenberg himself is the joker. Paolo gets students to correctly explain the words on the cards as they are played. This kind of experiential learning is a great way to get students to retain knowledge, as “repetitio est mater studiorum,” “repetition is the mother of learning. ” I strongly believe in the power of playfulness to inspire creativity and imagination,” says Paolo Granata.

Marshall McLuhan’s Distant Early Warning (DEW) Line Card Deck


Paolo Granata top centre & media scholar Andrey Miroshnichenko opposite him with 2 students

The Medium

A Marshal McLuhan Board Game

The Medium is a board game inspired by Marshall McLuhan, a thought-provoking game and teaching aid that encourages us to become aware of the media environment. It stimulates players to escape the maelstrom by recognizing the intended functions and side effects of any medium or technology.
Presented by Prof. Paolo Granata and his students in Book and Media Studies Program at St. Michael’s College at the University of Toronto, in partnership with the School of Design at George Brown College, The Medium illustrates Marshall and Eric McLuhan’s Laws of Media: the four constant rules that govern all human innovations – enhancing, obsolescing, retrieving, and reversal into.
By playing in partners, The Medium stimulates a player’s cooperative, innovative, strategic and creative thinking skills, and it also provides a means to cultivate awareness regarding the implications of media and technology, on both individual and societal levels.
Interested persons in the Toronto area are invited to attend a Testing Night for the game on Tuesday MAY 29th, 6:00 PM at 401 Games (518 Yonge St., Toronto).
The game should be available for sale in the late summer or Fall. A notification will be posted here.

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To understand McLuhan’s Laws of Media and how they can be applied to media and the kinds of insights that can be gained, see the following previous postings on this blog: 
The Laws of Media – A Conceptual Tool for Understanding Media – https://goo.gl/1XmrPn
Interview with Eric McLuhan on the Laws of Media – https://goo.gl/S2338P
Marshall McLuhan’s Laws of Media Applied: Photography Flips into Snapchat – https://goo.gl/EGBA4p
Marshall McLuhan’s 4 Laws of Media Applied to Innovation – https://goo.gl/8wwuj8