With Anne Michaels, Toronto’s Poet Laureate; Vickery Bowles, City Librarian, Toronto Public Library; and more…
McLuhan Salons: Rethinking the Global Village
Six bull sessions, six big ideas, six Toronto hot spots
This fall the McLuhan Centre for Culture & Technology at the University of Toronto is stepping out of the university and into the city, to better understand who we are, what matters to us, and where we might be going in a networked and rapidly changing world.
The McLuhan Salons will take place in six different dynamic city locations further dissolving the boundaries of the university and the city in bringing the multi-disciplinary multi-practice approaches to bear made famous by Marshall McLuhan.
The McLuhan Centre and these six salons are committed to breaking down the silos of academic disciplines, the university and society, public and private enterprise, art, business, civil society and individuals in order to release the energy of new and outrageous ideas, innovative thought, and transformative understanding and action.
The McLuhan Salons position the city as instructive in rethinking the larger interconnected global village. The collectivity of our global thought, actions and generational evolution are the defining principles the global human condition which we wish to explore. Each Salon will commence with moderated probative discussion within a panel of top leaders and thinkers, and will engage the audience.
DATE AND TIME: Wed, 2 November 2016 – 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM EDT – Add to Calendar
LOCATION: Toronto City Hall, 100 Queen Street West, Council Chamber of City Hall (3rd floor), Toronto, ON M5G 1P5 – View Map
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Runs from October 13 at 7:00 pm until December 20 at 7:00 pm
Location: The Kelly Library, St. Michael’s College, 113 St. Joseph Street, University of Toronto
Explore the development of Marshall McLuhan’s theories in the context of his academic and personal life at the University of St. Michael’s College. McLuhan’s central role in the rise of the Toronto School of Communication is presented through artifacts, audio, texts, video and photographs selected from archival repositories across the University of Toronto and the Federated Colleges of St. Michael’s, Trinity and Victoria. The exhibition will feature items drawn from the Special Collections and holdings at St. Michael’s, including material from the Sheila and Wilfred Watson archives, Donald Theall papers and Marshall McLuhan collection. Rare and intimate examples on display include McLuhan’s correspondence and collaborations with friends and colleagues on campus such as Claude Bissell, Tom Easterbrook, Carl Williams, Harold Innis, Edmund Carpenter and Northrop Frye.
A Review of the Exhibition from the U of T Student Varsity Newspaper, by William Goldie
McLuhan is the message – McLuhan on Campus challenges students to think about their surroundings
In the midst of a seemingly endless series of exams, assignments, and other obligations, it’s understandable for students to start reducing the U of T experience to one based on survival. One can be focused on making it through the next week, the next month, and the next semester, without making strong connections to the things that make a major research university like U of T important.
Some experiences jolt us out of this reverie — they remind us of the importance of the work we’re involved in and that the research we’re surrounded by every day is actually significant. From now until December 20, events like the Kelly Library’s current multimedia exhibition on the life of Marshall McLuhan have the potential to provide these experiences. McLuhan on Campus: Local Inspirations, Global Visions displays items from the university’s collections on the professor and strives to document both McLuhan’s work as one of the university’s most prominent academics and his lasting effect on its programs.
McLuhan worked as a Professor of English from 1946 until just prior to his death in 1980. His writings, alongside those of Harold Innis who was also highlighted in the exhibition, were some of the most influential works in the development of media and communications theory. He also helped establish the university as a centre for media and communications research, first through the unofficial School of Communication research group, and later through the Centre for Culture and Technology, which still operates today as part of the Faculty of Information (iSchool).
McLuhan’s growing recognition on the international stage in the second half of the twentieth century — and eventual status as a household name — is reflected in the objects on display. Correspondences with famous academics and early drafts of seminal books and papers are displayed, alongside McLuhan’s interviews in Playboy, Newsweek, and The New York Times Magazine.
Besides academic work and press clippings, the exhibition featured artifacts from McLuhan’s personal life and professional consulting career in advertising. Displays that depict the development of television and radio were also included, as were a series of zine-like, ad-hoc newsletters that he published.
Signs around the building commemorate McLuhan’s many enduring aphorisms and turns of phrase about art, media, and technology like the “global village” and “the medium is the message.” There are also quotes from his contemporaries. In a nod to the fact that his quotes were often misattributed or popularized by others, such as Andy Warhol’s “art is anything you can get away with” and Timothy Leary’s “turn on, tune in, drop out” mantra which reputedly originated with McLuhan, none of the signs display an author. A discreet bibliography on the ground floor notes the origin of each text.
Of course, a McLuhan exhibition would not be complete if it didn’t incorporate some kind of new medium, and multimedia terminals mounted in the middle of the library satisfied this need. The touchscreen devices serve as an index for parts of the university’s McLuhan collection; video and audio interviews were accessible through them. They proved to be the most thought-provoking elements of the entire exhibition.
While many of his ideas have always been controversial, it’s difficult to deny how prescient McLuhan’s work is, especially after seeing recordings of his lectures and speeches from the 1950–1960s about much of what has come to be today’s digital media landscape.
As an exhibition installed in a mixed-program public space, McLuhan on Campus is a little physically awkward. Parts of the collection can be difficult to view in detail without disturbing students studying at desks and tables nearby. Despite this, embedding the exhibition in a high-traffic space was appropriate and symbolic since media theory is still an esoteric subject, and McLuhan’s work is relevant to many students who otherwise might not go out of their way to see an exhibition on it. Showing it in the middle of a major library proves a deliberate and strategic method for exposing more people to work that can educate and inspire — many of us could probably use the jolt. (Source of article: https://goo.gl/a0su4G )
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With more presidential television debates looming I am reminded of what Marshall McLuhan, the media ecologist, wrote about the influence of television on our first televised debates in 1960 and their influence on our politics. To try to explain the nature of television and its effect on viewers, he christened TV a “cool” medium and only “cool” laidback personalities did best on the cool medium of TV. “Hot” personalities were unacceptable on TV. He stated a “hot” personality is to say that anybody whose appearance strongly declares his role and status in life is wrong for TV.
Nixon looked classifiable and viewers felt uncomfortable with his TV image. The viewer says uneasily, “There’s something about the guy that isn’t right.” Furthermore, “Kennedy did not look like a rich man or like a politician,” McLuhan wrote. Kennedy “presented a not too precise or too ready of speech so as “to spoil his pleasantly tweedy blur of countenance and outline.”
JFK, sun tanned and rested from his compound at Hyannis, armed with his blurred ample hair falling over his forehead, aided by easy humor, and a great smile charmed TV viewers in the debate. Nixon got a haircut for the debates, probably wanting to look “clean cut” with lowered ears, fine upstanding and real American. That high definition image did him no good on the cool medium of TV. On top of that, he had a cold and sweated profusely during the debate.
JFK’s dad told him to “Look at the camera, don’t look at Nixon, he’ll never vote for you. Look at the voters behind the camera, they are the ones who count.” Great advice, Joe. Nixon instead looked at Kennedy not the voters with his dark brooding eyes that stared blankly at times. All that did not help him on the medium of television.
Those who watched the debate on TV thought Kennedy with his visually less well-defined image and nonchalant attitude won the debate. Those who listened to the debate on radio, however, gave Nixon the win. His hot personality and deep radio voice won it for him on the “hot” medium of radio. “I am not a crook.”
The hot personality of Donald Trump should be sinking him according to the McLuhan theory of hot and cool personalities on TV. And Hilary is a more blurred image that should help her on TV. A grandmother, secretary?
So how did Trump break the McLuhan theory of hot personalities flopping on the cool television medium?
We must look to McLuhan’s fellow media ecologist, Neil Postman, whose message on the back of his book, Amusing Ourselves to Death, 1985, shares that “Television has conditioned us to tolerate visually entertaining material measured out in spoonful’s of time, to the detriment of rational public discourse and reasoned public affairs”. Postman alerted us to what, in my view, is happening with the media in this election. There are “ready and present dangers and offers compelling suggestions as to how to withstand the media onslaught.”
Trump breaks the mold because he is a television entertainment personality. Was Trump on TV more than another movie television president, Ronald Reagan? Trump’s “You’re fired,” and Reagan’s “Bonanza” land with a twenty mule team inoculated Americans with years of television entertainment. Hilary does not have that advantage. Watch out, Democrats. And Richard Lanham in his book Economics of Attention shows us that our attention span has shortened dramatically. No four hour Lincoln-Douglas debates here ever again. TV creates bottled celebrity and machine made fame.
In the final chapter of his book, Postman muses that culture can whither in two ways. Orwellian-culture becomes a prison. Huxleyan-culture becomes a burlesque. Postman adds that “entertainment is the supra-ideology of all discourse on television.” Entertainer Trump is doing well on his medium, television. This presidential campaign season shows us that we have already turned over politics, education, religion, and journalism to the show-business demands of the television age.
The final paragraph in Postman’s book might be warning us about this election cycle as it describes what is happening to America. Huxley believed like H. G. Wells that we “are in a race between education and disaster,” and he wrote continuously about the necessity of our understanding the politics and epistemology of media. For, in the end, he was trying to tell us that what afflicted the people in Brave New World was not that they were laughing instead of thinking, but that they did not know what they were laughing about and why they had stopped thinking.”
Is it too late for us to figure out how media shapes our lives and politics and ways, in which we can, in turn, reconfigure them to serve our highest goals as a media savvy nation?
Source: North Denver Tribune, October 20, 2016 ( https://goo.gl/94x2jJ )
About the author Dennis Gallagher: https://goo.gl/HL9NqB
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(Click on any image for expanded view)
The 2016 Medium and the Light Award
The recipient of the sixth annual Medium and the Light Award, in recognition of the religious dimensions of the life and work of Marshall McLuhan, was presented on Sunday, October 16 in Toronto at the closing Gala Awards Dinner of the international conference, The Toronto School: Then, Now, Next held at the University of Toronto.
Sister Angela Ann Zukowski, MHSH (Mission Helpers of the Sacred Heart), D. Min., a longtime media practitioner, entrepreneur, scholar and educator in Catholic communications, is the recipient of this year’s Award. She is Director of the Institute for Pastoral Initiatives and Associate Professor in the Dept. of Religious Studies, founder of the world wide Virtual Learning Community for Faith Formation at the University of Dayton. Sr. Angela Ann uniquely served as mentor/academic advisor to the last (2015) recipient of the Medium and the Light Award, the late Richard J. Osicki and as mentee of the first (2011) recipient of this award, the late Fr. Pierre Babin, omi through her desire to re-imagine his Symbolic Way in light of the digital culture. This was at least in part fulfilled by her collaborative work with Fr. Babin in The Gospel in Cyberspace: Nurturing Faith in the Internet Age (2002) which culminated her 12-year association with his Centre for Research in Education and Communication (Crec Avex) in Lyon, France. Sr. Angela Ann is receiving the Medium and the Light Award particularly for her long and courageous exploration of a theology of communications that probes how media technologies may be more effectively used in faith formation to understand the Gospel in a digital age.
Sister Angela Ann Zukowski & Howard Engel
In her acceptance speech, Sr. Angela Ann spoke passionately without notes out of gratitude for her collaborative friendship with Fr. Babin and, by extension, with Marshall McLuhan whom Fr. Babin knew and interviewed personally. In light of their insights on the effects of media technologies on human beings, she also posed a challenge to all in attendance to once in a while become untethered to those technologies. They have a tendency to tie people down and even enslave them by their mesmerizing power. This is only true to the extent that people let themselves be so enslaved. She remarked that she invites her own students to go technology free and once they try it they want more time for silence, reflection and meditation.
The Award is given annually by The Marshall McLuhan Initiative at St Paul’s College, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Canada. The University of Manitoba is Marshall McLuhan’s first post-secondary alma mater. He earned the Gold Medal in Arts for 1933 and an M.A. in English literature (1934).
The inaugural award, in 2011, was presented to the late Fr. Pierre Babin, omi (1925-2012), in Lyons, France. The unique Medium and Light obelisk statuette representing the award was unveiled by Dr. Eric McLuhan during Toronto’s McLuhan Centenary celebrations that summer. Originally conceived by the late Director of the Marshall McLuhan Initiative, Richard J. Osicki (1946-2012), and inspired by the book The Medium and the Light: Reflections on Religion by Marshall McLuhan and edited by Eric McLuhan and Jacek Szklarek (1999) was designed by The Initiative in collaboration with artist Matthew McMillan of Prairie Studio Glass, Winnipeg who uniquely recreates the glass obelisk each year.
The 2012 award was presented to Dr. Thomas W. Cooper, the distinguished professor of communications at Emerson College in Boston during the international conference “McLuhan: Social Media Between Faith and Culture” held at the University of St. Michael’s College in the University of Toronto.
The 2013 award was presented to none other than Dr. Eric McLuhan, world-renowned author, lecturer and prober into all things media ecology, during the 50th Anniversary of the Opening of McLuhan’s Centre for Culture & Technology, University of Toronto.
The 2014 award was presented to Fr. John J. Pungente, S.J. and The Jesuit Communication Project (JCP) which he directs, both internationally known and award winning media literacy leaders on the occasion of JCP’s 30th anniversary and the 50th Anniversary of the publication of Marshall McLuhan’s seminal work, Understanding Media during the Media Ecology Association’s Convention in Toronto.
The 2015 award was presented posthumously to the late Richard J. Osicki (1946-2012), journalist, broadcaster, media educator and explorer in search of a theology of communications through his Master’s thesis on McLuhan and Canadian Jesuit theologian Bernard Lonergan and first director of The Marshall McLuhan Initiative on Sunday, October 18 in Hanley Hall, St. Paul’s College, University of Manitoba, at the McLuhan’s Faith and Works Conference, jointly held by the Initiative and the International Institute for the Study of Technology and Christianity, Wheaton, Illinois, on the 100th anniversary of the McLuhan family’s move to Winnipeg in 1915.
Howard R. Engel
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For nearly fifty years, Heritage Toronto’s Plaques and Markers Program has officially remembered key people, places and events which have shaped the city we live in today. From 20th century skyscrapers, to the sites of former aboriginal villages, to the city’s first Chinatown, the range of possible plaque subjects has been as diverse as Toronto’s history itself. Current plaques can be viewed on the Heritage Toronto Exploration Map!
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Assembled audience inside the Coach House for the Heritage Toronto McLuhan Centre Plaque unveiling, October 12, 2016 at 2 noon
Dr. Seamus Ross, Interim McLuhan Centre for Culture & Technology Director, opening remarks
Tyler Greenleaf, Heritage Toronto
Dr. Robert (“Bob”) Logan, Emeritus Professor & McLuhan collaborator
Immediately to his right, sitting down, is Gwendolyn McLuhan, Marshall McLuhan’s grand-daughter
Kristyn Wong-Tam, City of Toronto Councilor
Dr. Meric Gertler, President of the University of Toronto
David Mulroney, President of the University of St. Michael’s College
Michael McLuhan, son of Marshall McLuhan & McLuhan Estate manager
The plaque, to be affixed to the outside of the Coach House
A Short History of the McLuhan Centre for Culture & Technology, informally known as the Coach House
On October 24, 1963, John Kelly, president of St. Michael’s College, and Claude T. Bissell, president of the University of Toronto, together decided to establish the Centre for Culture and Technology. The Centre became McLuhan’s office in the English Department at St. Michael’s College.
Beside McLuhan himself, the early members of the Centre included Allen Bernholtz (Architecture), Drs. Daniel Cappon and E. Llewellyn-Thomas (Medicine), B. M. Carpendale and Arthur Porter (Engineering), W. T. Easterbrook (Political Science), Carl Wilson (Psychology), Harley Parker (Design, Royal Ontario Museum) and Ed Rogers (Anthropology). Seminars, workshops, lectures and other events were held regularly wherever space was available.
While McLuhan was at Fordham University during 1967 and ’68, Professor Arthur Porter, the acting director of the Centre, obtained the Coach House for McLuhan’s Centre. Upon McLuhan’s return from New York, the Centre moved into its new home at 39A 39A Queen’s park Crescent East. Former and future students, visiting teachers and scholars, researchers, people with interesting ideas or proposals for joint work or just curious tourists stopped by the Program.
Through the 1970s, McLuhan’s famous Monday Night Seminars filled the main seminar room at the Centre. A dynamic community was formed during those seminars, a community remembered fondly by many participants who return to the Coach House today to visit and reminisce. The seminar room remains visually dominated by the stunning mural, Pied Pipers All, by Canadian artist René Cera, a gift to the McLuhan Program from McLuhan’s widow, Corinne McLuhan.
Following Marshall McLuhan’s death, on New Year’s Eve 1980, the University of Toronto closed the Centre, but following a tremendous worldwide outcry, the McLuhan Program in Culture and Technology was reopened. Literacy scholar and OISE professor David Olsen became the first director.
In the summer of 1994, the McLuhan program joined the Faculty of Information Studies as a distinct research and teaching unit. From its base at the historic Coach House on the east campus, the McLuhan Program continued to engage in its explorations into the nature and effects of technologies on culture.
1994 – Present
In 1994, The McLuhan Program in Culture and Technology became a research and teaching unit of the University of Toronto Faculty of Information. The Faculty of Information is a professional graduate faculty of the University of Toronto and the home of a broad-based group of information professionals. FI offers two degree programs: a doctoral program (Ph.D.) and a Master of Information Studies program (M.I.St.) with three specializations: archival studies, information systems, and library and information science. Graduates work in a wide range of information settings as librarians, information systems specialists, web designers, educators, archivists, researchers, records managers, and information consultants. The iSchool also offers a (MMSt) Museum Studies Program.
In 2009, the iSchool, also known as the Faculty of Information at the University of Toronto, launched the Coach House Institute (CHI) as a clearly defined research unit under which the McLuhan Program in Culture and Technology now operates. The move recognizes the broad mandate of the CHI, facilitates its governance, management and oversight within governing UofT practices, and enables the CHI to make a significant contribution to the Faculty’s intellectual presence within the University.
On May 31, 2016 the Coach House Institute was officially renamed the McLuhan Centre for Culture and Technology. Source: https://goo.gl/44fdOk )
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McLuhan Centenary Fellow Paolo Granata, Conference Chair Extraordinaire, in Front of the Coach House (photo by Romi Levine) (Click on any image for a closer view)
Conference brings influential media thinkers back into the spotlight (and it’s about time!)
Toronto has its fair share of cultural icons. Today, it’s Drake – our chart-topping, Raptors-loving rap superstar whose nickname for Toronto, “the 6ix,” has become a part of our daily lexicon.
In the 1960s, it was a group of forward-thinking intellectuals led by Marshall McLuhan, one of University of Toronto’s most famous professors. He became a celebrity as his ideas on mass media, culture and technology attracted fans like John Lennon, Woody Allen and Pierre Trudeau.
The Toronto School conference is also an opportunity to give a voice to a more diverse group of media theorists. “A lot of young women are involved in this conference as student volunteers or as panelists,” says Emma Findlay-White, a fourth-year student at Victoria College in book and media studies and the conference’s volunteer coordinator. “There’s a lot of different ways women are getting their perspective and views out there. It’s important that we’re changing the role women play in media.” And change is good for the Toronto School.
“We are at the McLuhan Centre not to say what McLuhan said,” Granata says. “We are here to do what McLuhan did: foster conversation, participation, foster the awareness about how we can look at the contemporary world.” (Article source: https://goo.gl/NTg54H ) – Read more about the McLuhan Centre
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Click on image to expand.
The Toronto School Conference, Oct 13 – 16, 2016; A subset of the over 330 who attended; In front of Victoria College, U of Toronto . Seen in the photograph in no special order are: Elena Lamberti, Michael McLuhan, Luigi Ferrara, Anne MacLennan, Joshua Meyrowitz, Daniel Paré, Derrick de Kerckhove, Dominique Scheffel-Dunand, Phil Rose, Twyla Gibson, Davide Bennato, David Nostbakken, Mark Stahlman, Paolo Granata, Mario Pireddu, Emma Findlay-White, Penny Johnson, Steve Hicks, Gary Genosko, Adam Pugen, Alexander Kuskis, Leona Seely, Malcolm Dean, Paul Farrelly, Bob Rodgers, Howard Engel, Sister Angela Ann Zukowski, Agnes Kruchio, et al. Student Helpers in blue T-shirts.
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Harold Innis Reflects: Memoir & WWI Writings/ Correspondence
Harold Innis canoeing on the Peace River, 1924
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The Toronto School: Then, Now, Next International Conference is one week away, and there is an incredible line-up of free events, open to the public. Join us, and take part in the most exciting initiative we have ever organized. Register soon. It’s free, but seats are limited and will go to registrants first.
TORONTO HERITAGE PLAQUE UNVEILING – Please join us at the McLuhan Centre for Culture and Technology for a historic day: unveiling a heritage plaque dedicated to Marshall McLuhan and the Toronto School of Communication, in the Coach House building.
With Kristyn Wong-Tam, City Councillor, Prof. Meric Gertler, President, University of Toronto,Michael McLuhan, among other speakers. Light refreshments will be provided.
2. Wednesday OCT 12, 6:30 PM
DIGITAL HUMANITIES: A CRITICAL PERSPECTIVE ON A GLOBAL PHENOMENON
Lecture by Domenico Fiormonte, University of Roma 3. Moderator: Paolo Granata
This lecture, in English, offers a critical introduction to the core technologies underlying the Internet from a humanistic perspective. Entrance: free.
Italian Cultural Institute, 496 Huron Street, Toronto.
A Lectio Magistralis and a Multi-Media Exhibition
Explore the development of Marshall McLuhan’s theories in the context of his academic and personal life at St. Michael’s College.
UNVEILING, “PIED PIPERS ALL” painting by René Cera.
LECTIO MAGISTRALIS by PAUL ELIE – The Makings of a Spirituality of Technology: Glenn Gould, Marshall McLuhan, and “Electronic Participation”. Reception to follow.
FREE EVENT OPEN TO THE PUBLIC, (registration required)
Canada Room, Brennan Hall
St. Michael’s College, 81 St. Mary Street, Toronto
Fisher Rare Book Library, 120 St George St, Toronto
McLuhan Centre for Culture and Technology
39A Queen’s Park Crescent East, Toronto
7. RETHINKING THE GLOBAL VILLAGE IN AN ERA OF CITIES & SOFT POWER
With Josh Basseches, Karen Carter, Rita Davies, Gail Lord, Namugenyi Kiwanuka, Mark Surman
Curated by David Nostbakken. Chair: Gail Lord
Sunday OCT 16, 5:30 PM
Isabel Bader Theatre, 91 Charles Street West, Toronto (FREE EVENT)
This Town Hall Meeting enthusiastically throws open the door to the city. The City will be the “Toronto School” classroom for the evening. Here members of the class will explore the influences of soft power in civic discourse, cultural change and collective intelligence. For the last year the McLuhan Centre for Culture and Technology has been engaged in a community building exercise of consultations, Monday Night Seminars, workshops, labs and salons under the banner of “City as Classroom”. These activities and the Town Hall Meeting are designed to embrace the shaping influence of arts, cultural, civil society, business and industry and emerging communities within the city. From the Town Hall to the halls of learning and back again, the Toronto School will be envisioned as a sustainable and value force having found its place in the city and the global community that has congregated in Toronto for the conference.
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