McLuhan’s Faith & Works Conference, St. Paul’s College, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Oct. 18 & 19

07Sep15

The First Joint Conference: International Institute for the Study of Technology and Christianity (IISTC) & The Marshall McLuhan Initiative

McLuhan’s Faith & Works

October 18-19, 2015 St. Paul’s College, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, CANADA

 Conference Coordinators: Read Mercer Schuchardt (read.schuchardt@wheaton.edu) Wheaton College; Howard R. Engel (howardr.engel@gmail.com) St. Paul’s College

St. Paul’s College at the University of Manitoba is delighted to host the First Joint Conference of the International Institute for the Study of Technology and Christianity (IISTC) and The Marshall McLuhan Initiative.  The IISTC, founded in 2013, is the publisher of Second Nature Journal (online at secondnaturejournal.com).  St. Paul’s College is the major Catholic institution of higher learning in the province of Manitoba, Canada (http://umanitoba.ca/stpauls/).  The University of Manitoba, Marshall McLuhan’s first post-secondary alma mater, was founded in 1877 as Western Canada’s first public university.  The purpose of The Marshall McLuhan Initiative, founded in 2007, is “to honor, celebrate, and extend the life’s work of Herbert Marshall McLuhan (1911-1980), who grew up in Winnipeg, graduated from the University of Manitoba, was a devout Catholic, a beloved professor of English literature, prophetic poet, satirist, and the renowned communications theorist, visionary, and media guru that we recognize today.” The Marshall McLuhan Initiative has a special interest in the religious thought and life of Marshall McLuhan, and in his Canadian Prairie roots.   The International Institute for the Study of Technology and Christianity has a special interest in the religious thought and life of Marshall McLuhan in that he was a founder of the school of thought now known as Media Ecology, was the direct inspiration for Neil Postman’s program at New York University, and was a lifelong adherent to the faith of Christianity.  It is with this unique perception of the importance of McLuhan’s faith on his work that we proceed to explore in depth both the concepts and percepts of McLuhan’s Faith and Works

Faith is a mode of perception” according to McLuhan.  McLuhan had this faith and practiced it daily by reading scripture and attending mass, and yet he rarely mentioned it or wrote much about its role in his life’s work of analyzing and understanding media forms.  Or perhaps all McLuhan ever did was analyze media from the detached observational viewpoint that the faith had granted him?  Scholars, critics, biographers, colleagues and interlocutors both inside and outside his faith tradition disagree and debate about the nature of his faith and the nature of its role (or lack thereof) in his otherwise “secular” academic work.  Until 1999, with the publication of The Medium and The Light, knowledge of McLuhan’s faith was itself fairly limited.  As more material comes forth and as more of the religious aspect of sensory perception is allowed into academic discourse, now is the time to have an open, provocative, invigorating, and challenging discussion of just what, how, where, when, and why did McLuhan’s faith play a role in his life’s work. 

McLuhan once observed of his prairie roots, “I think of Western [Canadian] skies as one of the most beautiful things about the [Canadian] West and western horizons.  The [Canadian] Westerner doesn’t have a point of view.  He has a vast panorama, he has such tremendous space around him… he has a total field of vision.” 

The conference site at University of Manitoba is surrounded by the beautiful and historic city of Winnipeg, where Marshall McLuhan was raised from age four until he left for Cambridge University in 1934.  Attendees will note that 2015 marks the 100th anniversary of the McLuhan family move to Winnipeg.  The private house in the Fort Rouge area of Winnipeg was the McLuhan family home from 1919 to 1934, a time which represents the longest McLuhan lived at any address in his whole life.  Winnipeg is known as the cultural cradle of Western Canada, at the junction of the Assiniboine and Red Rivers.  In addition to the conference, visitors can enjoy world-class cultural, historic, and geographic attractions, such as the newly opened Canadian Museum for Human Rights (https://humanrights.ca/).  See http://www.tourismwinnipeg.com/ for a more complete offering on what’s happening in Winnipeg and how to maximize the enjoyment of your visit.  We encourage conference participants to extend their visit one or more days to avail themselves of Winnipeg’s offerings.  

For your convenience, we provide you with the following accommodation options:  

  • CanadInn Fort Garry Destination Centre (204-261-7450; toll free: 1-888-332-2623) on 1824 Pembina Hwy offers a special rate of $118 (reg $150) for a standard (2 queen beds) room per night for conference attendees, and runs a complimentary shuttle service to/from the Winnipeg Airport from 8am to 9pm daily.  The CanadInns reservations Web site is at http://www.canadinns.com/stay/stay-main.php?entry_id=8568 
  • The Queen Bee Hotel (204-269-4666; toll free 1-866-431-4666) at 2615 Pembina Highway is slightly further away, but offers low cost rooms at a smaller establishment, and is offering rooms at a $10 discount to conference attendees.  Please mention the McLuhan Conference to receive a preferred booking rate at either hotel.  Discounted rates apply for stays ranging from October 16 to October 20. See their Web page through Tourism Winnipeg at http://www.tourismwinnipeg.com/visitors/accommodations/hotels/hotels-south/display,102743/01025/queen-bee-hotel 
  • Comfort Inn Winnipeg South (204-269-7390; toll free 1-866-900-7390) at 3109 Pembina Highway is extending their special U. of M. rate of $93 per night plus taxes to Conference attendees.  This includes a complimentary hot breakfast, free wi-fi and free local calls. For more information, please click on their website: http://www.choicehotels.com/cn354 or make reservations at the following link McLuhan’s Faith and Works Conference.  If calling, please ask for the group block under Mcluhan’s Faith and Works Conference. Any rooms not reserved 30 days prior to the event will be dropped. 

Inquiries should be directed to the Conference Coordinators:  Read Mercer Schuchardt, Wheaton College, read.schuchardt@wheaton.edu 630-752-5943 or 

Howard R. Engel, howardr.engel@gmail.com 204-253-0419

For more information on the International Institute for the Study of Technology and Christianity please see iistc.org or our publication Second Nature Journal at secondnaturejournal.com 

Registration: Conference registration includes a one year membership to the International Institute for the Study of Technology and Christianity. To register for the conference, please choose either a regular or student membership, complete your payment through PayPal. Once your payment is completed, please click on “Return to the International Institute for the Study of Technology and Christianity” and fill out the form. The registration form is also available here.

winnipeg-manitoba Winnipeg, Manitoba

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